Tuesday, April 24, 2007

more books

Here are a few more favorite writing books:
"The Writer's Guide to Crafting Stories for Children", by Nancy Lamb. This one's a winner, even if you don't write for children. It's comprehensive, up to the minute, and offers great examples.
"What's Your Story", by Marion Dane Bauer. It's for young people, but full of common sense ideas.
"The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes" by Jack Bickham. Every writing book by Bickham is excellent; this one is a great check for issues.
I have to admit, I'm a sucker for a good writing book. I learn something every time I read a new one.
I was teaching grammar to my 9th graders today, and bemoaning the mistakes that seem to be cropping up more and more in magazines and newspapers - I like to think they're typos, but I fear that some of the copy editors in question are lax on grammar skills. Have any thoughts?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Take Two: Books for Writers

I wanted to use this blog time to talk about writing books that make a difference, and to invite readers to share their own favorites.
My top two entries are Robert McKee's "Story", and Christopher Vogler's "The Writer's Journey". Now, I know that McKee is a screenplay writer/editor, but his analysis of story construct is brilliant and detailed. If you like movies (as I do), you will relate to his analysis. Probably the most important message to take from his book, though, is to remember that storytelling needs to be compelling. I'm beginning to think about the bond that I want to create with my audience. (I say "beginning", because I feel like I am still learning to construct a decent story). Without a story that makes a connection, my words are just pretty nothings, and this is McKee's message.
Vogler's book is a reinterpretation of Joseph Campbell's classic (if complex) "The Hero's Journey". What I like about Vogler is that he is so clear and logical. Not to say that story construction is driven by a template - not at all. But certain things come back time and again in stories and were probably present in the earliest tales told around the campfire. These things include archetypal characters, and stages of change in the protagonist.
One of the ideas present in both books is that the protagonist must go through a change that is irreversible. That is, the protagonist never leaves their story in the same shape as when they began their story.
But more about that and some other favorite books later - and please, add your own thoughts and books to this page.