Sarah’s busy with house-related stuff, so she asked me to take the morning slot. Little did she know, I’ve been a bit under the weather for the last couple of days, so writing- and thinking!- have been a little patchy. Patchier than usual. Whatever.
I’ve been told that I should read books on how to write books. Weird logic, that. I thought I was supposed to wing it.
Funnily enough, I was always that kid who learned best from books- I had a nearly eidetic memory until my early twenties- but nowadays, it’s a less-useful technique for me. I have a few ‘how-to-write’ books on the shelves, but most of my learning comes from reading other fiction and taking note of what I like and what sells.
I’ve committed the unforgivable heresy of starting but not finishing Dwight Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer. It’s been a while since I put it down, but I vaguely remember that there was so much information in it that I couldn’t absorb everything at once. Then I set it aside, got busy with other things, and never went back.
One book that has been rather useful- and I should read it again- is Patrick McManus’s The Deer on a Bicycle. It’s about writing humor, and incorporating humor into other fiction. Some tips are a little dated- the author was focused on writing for trad pub- but in general, it holds up well.
Romancing the Beat, by Gwen Hayes, is an odd little book. So far- I haven’t finished it- it’s been useful for write-by-numbers romances, and not much else. So if you’re looking for advice on how to incorporate a romantic subplot into a book of another genre, this one probably isn’t the way to go. On the other hand, if you want to write books firmly in the romance genre, it gives a great overview of plot structure and how to construct individual scenes.
Your turn! What writing-related books have been useful to you? Which ones don’t mesh with your style?