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

How to Grow a Novel

How to Grow a Novel By Sol Stein (St. Martin’s Griffin, 240 pp) Rating: ✍✍✍ Audience: Fiction writers Scope: Craft tips and industry overview Overview: Similar to Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, this book has a chatty, almost memoir-like tone. The author envisioned this book, as stated in his introduction, as a more in depth … Continue reading

A Dash of Style

A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation By Noah Lukeman (W.W. Norton and Co., 206 pp) Rating: ✍✍✍✍ Audience: Creative writers (fiction and nonfiction alike) Scope: Punctuation Overview: A Dash of Style devotes itself entirely to punctuation. Don’t cringe; it’s not a throwback to grade school sentence diagramming. This book assumes you … Continue reading

Self-editing for Fiction Writers

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers By Renni Browne & Dave King (Collins Publishers, 288 pp.) Rating: ✍✍✍✍✍ Audience: Fiction writers Scope: Editing and craft development Overview: If I had to recommend one book to writers, this might be it. I’ve underlined and dog-eared almost every page. This isn’t a book about punctuation or line-editing (although there … Continue reading

The Measure of Success

In writing, as oft in life, we set out chasing a specific goal. Mine? To be traditionally published. Penguin, Hachette, Macmillan—any of the “big five” publishers will do. It’s a lofty goal, to be sure, even a bit antiquated in today’s world of self-publishing. And it’s not without a touch of vanity. Who wouldn’t want … Continue reading

The Power of Point of View

The Power of Point of View By Alicia Rasley (Writer’s Digest Books, 272 pp) Rating: ✍✍✍✍ Audience: Fiction Writers Scope: Point of view (POV) options and what each can bring to your novel Overview: This book is an in-depth look at POV. It explores each of the basic POVs—first person, second person, and third person—as … Continue reading

Bird by Bird

Bird By Bird By Anne Lamott (Anchor, 272 pp) Rating: ✍✍✍ Audience: New writers and those in search of inspiration. Scope: Writing anecdotes and advice. Some tips on craft and technique. Overview: Anne Lamott takes the reader through the twists and turns of a writer’s life. The tone is chatty, the voice familiar and hilarious. … Continue reading

First Draft in 30 Days

First Draft in 30 Days By Karen S. Wiesner (Writer’s Digest Books, 216 pp) Rating: ✍✍✍✍ Audience: A great book for new writers learning how to plot Scope: Manuscript building and outlining technique Overview: Don’t let the name fool you. This is not some gimmicky book aimed at slapdash production. At the end of 30 … Continue reading

Upcoming Contest: Pitch Madness!

Got a complete manuscript? Head over to Brenda Drake’s website and check out her latest contest PITCH MADNESS.

Cost: Free!

Requirements: Though you’ll submit only a 35 word pitch and the first page of your novel, your manuscript must be complete and unpublished. Fiction only. Adult, New Adult, Young Adult, and Middle Grade of any genre accepted.

How it Works: On Monday, March 10 follow Continue reading