Filed under Craft Corner

Sin and Syntax

Sin and Syntax Constance Hale (Three Rivers Press, pp 306) Rating: ✍✍✍✍ Audience: Fiction and nonfiction writers Scope: Grammar: words, sentences, and the music of fine prose. Overview: I heard Constance Hale speak at the 2015 San Francisco Writer’s Conference. Her talk inspired me so much, I attended every other class she gave that weekend. … Continue reading

Give ‘Em What They Want

Give ‘Em What They Want Blythe Camenson & Marshall J. Cook (Writer’s Digest Books, pp 244) Rating: ✍✍ Audience: Fiction and nonfiction writers seeking traditional publication Scope: Query letters, synopses, outlines, pitches Overview: I’ve talked recently about attending writing conferences. So how do I prepare? I print business cards, read up on the agents and … Continue reading

Beyond Books: Conferences

Reading craft books is important. I wouldn’t blog about it every month if I didn’t think so. You can reference your dog-eared and highlighted pages time and again when a little brush up in POV or scene structure or grammar is in order. But other forms of learning are important too: reading, writing groups, critique … Continue reading

Writing Down the Bones

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within Natalie Goldberg (Shambhala, 171 pp) Rating: ✍✍✍ Audience: Poetry and Fiction writers Scope: Writing inspiration and exercises Overview: Natalie Goldberg is a poet. It’s almost as if she can’t help it. Even this book, a how-to book about writing, is filled with little bits of poetry—both her … Continue reading

Recommended Just for You

What books do agents and publishers recommend to aspiring writers? What novels are bestselling authors reading for inspiration? Writers Conferences are great places to find out. Earlier this month at the San Francisco Writers Conference I took special note of the books these industry professionals discussed and recommended. Most I hadn’t read, but many landed … Continue reading

Revision & Self-Editing

Revision & Self-Editing James Scott Bell (Writer’s Digest Books, 272 pp) Rating: ✍✍✍✍ Audience: Fiction writers Scope: How to get your first draft to a final draft Overview: James Scott Bell has written several writing books, covering topics from plot to dialogue to conflict and suspense. My favorite is Revision & Self-Editing. Broken into two … Continue reading

HOOKED

Hooked: Write Fiction that Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets them Go Les Edgerton (Writer’s Digest Books, 256pp) Rating: ✍✍✍✍ Audience: Fiction writers Scope: Novel openings Overview: You’ve heard it before: you’ve gotta hook the reader on page one, paragraph one, line one. Hooked by Les Edgerton shows the burgeoning writer how to … Continue reading

The Art of Reading

The Art of Reading Timothy Spurgin, Ph.D. (The Great Courses) Rating: ✍✍✍✍ Audience: Readers and writers alike Scope: How to read well Overview: I’m breaking with form a bit here to review a set of CDs/DVDs put out by The Great Courses Company. This company offers audio and video lectures on a myriad of topics … Continue reading

Breathing Life into your Characters

Breathing Life into your Characters By Rachel Ballon, Ph.D. (Writer’s Digest Books, 256 pp) Rating: ✍✍ Audience: Fiction writers Scope: Character development Overview: Plot and character are among the most basic and essential aspects of fiction writing. They’re the bones of any great story. I’ve read several great books dedicated to the art of plotting … Continue reading

On Writing Well

On Writing Well By William Zinsser (Harper Perennial, 336 pp) Rating: ✍✍✍✍ Audience: Nonfiction and Fiction writers Scope: Principles, methods, and forms of writing Overview: Zinsser wrote this book in 1975 based on a nonfiction writing coarse he’d been teaching at Yale. In fact, the book’s subtitle is The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction. But … Continue reading