Friday, 7 January 2011

How many do you have?

Writing books that is.  Or How-to books.
I must confess I've been a bit naughty again.  And it's all Mulberry's fault.  She recommended a book on her blog and that's all it took.  To be fair to her I'd heard this book mentioned before, but this was in a workbook style so I felt like it was a message for me to do something.  And I can't blame her for the second purchase.  So, lo and behold, off I trundled to the Book Depository and bought
Save the Cat by Blake Snyder  and
Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass.

Now I'm sure that I'll like these books.  Because I seem to like ALL of these books.  Then I took a little wander through to my "office".  You know I don't really have one, but it's the part of the house that's designated mine, with my old clanky computer, a filing cabinet and a bit of a bookcase. 
And guess what I find.  A treasure trove of how-to books.  Some that I'd forgotten that I'd even purchased!
So what was in that store?  Wait for it folks and take a deep breath.....

Writing a Romance Novel for Dummies                                       Leslie Wainger
Revision and Self-Editing                                                             James Scott Bell
The Everything Guide to Writing the Romance Novel                   Christie Craig & Faye Hughes
The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes                          Jack Bickham
On Writing                                                                                  Stephen King
Hooked                                                                                       Les Edgerton
Solutions for Novelists                                                                  Sol Stein
The Romance Writers Handbook                                                 Rebecca Vinyard
The Writers Journey                                                                     Christopher Vogler
The Enneagram made Easy                                                           Renee Baron & Elizabeth Wagele
12 point guide to Writing Romance                                               Kate Walker
The Romance Writers Phrase Book                                              Jean Kent & Candace Shelton
How to Write Romances                                                              Phyllis Taylor Pianka
How to Write a Blockbuster                                                         Helen Corner & Lee Weatherly
Manuscript Makeover                                                                  Elizabeth Lyon
Scene and Structure                                                                     Jack Bickham
Goal, Motivation and Conflict                                                       Debra Dixon
Getting the Point                                                                           J Hadden & E Hawksley


I really need to get out more.  But to be honest some I've liked some more than others.  And they're not all writing books, some are about editing, some about characters, and some about punctuation. 

It's a weak defence - I know!

Most of all my favourite is still the one I bought first - Kate Walkers 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance.  It's still the one I find most useful.  And what's better, she's just released a new updated version.  There are a number of websites currently offering copies as prizes, but I won't be telling you where they all are because I'll be entering them myself!!!!

There are others I've enjoyed like Leslie Wainger's Writing a Romance Novel for Dummies and, now don't laugh, The Romance Writers Phrase Book.  It may be a little outdated, but it helped me write my very first story aimed at Mills and Boon.  For my latest story I didn't use it at all, but I think that just shows me that I've finally made some headway and progressed.

So, what about you?  Do you own any of these books?  Do you have a secret stash somewhere?  Which one do you like best?  Or, dare you recommend something else to me?  Remember - there may be repercussions!!!


  1. WOW! What a stash! I've got Kate Walker's 12 Point Guide 3rd Edition.
    Writing Romance Novel for Dummies by L. Wainger
    Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Mass.

    But recently Michelle Douglas talked about some craft books on my blog and Sharon Archer listed some more, so I've got to list them and try to get them!

    Here's the link if you want to check out:

  2. Many thanks Nas but you are a BAD BAD lady! I've just ordered two more books, now come and stand in the naughty girl line with me please! x

  3. Hello again, Susan,

    So you ordered from Michelle Douglas list or the one recommended by Sharon Archer in the comments?

  4. And forgot to add...I'm already in the line with you as I've ordered all the ones mentioned!

  5. I ordered from the Michelle Douglas list, Becoming a Writer and Word Painting. Hope they are good!

  6. No, y'know, I don't buy writing books. I've read a few but can't seem to apply the concepts to my own writing. Maybe when I read them I just didn't know much about anything. Maybe if I read them now I may be able to make sense of them more.

  7. We sound like TWINS Susan. As you know I've just packed my house and I culled a few books. I have seven that you mentioned and others as well. To be honest, I haven't actually read any in their entirety I think... but they look good :)

  8. Folks can I just say in my defence when I wrote this post it was a nice tidy list - I've no idea what happened to it!

    Jackie - you might have the right idea about not buying writing books - my other half can't believe the amount of books I've bought - he lives in fear of the postman ringing the doorbell again...

    Lacey - I want to know if you have any too!!

    Rachael - you culled some books?? I'm coming over all faint and swoonish. I don't think my blood pressure can cope! I remember I visited somebody years ago as a district nurse and you can barely get in the house for the piles and piles of books stacked everywhere. Everyone else was complaining and I just smiled and sighed Heaven!

  9. I have a few of those books and more not on your list. But, I'll save you some money and not mention them. My favorite by far is Deb Dixon's GMC.

    I'm culling books as well. But, I have to move in six months. My husband says I can't take them all with me.

    Abbi :-)

  10. I've got some of the ones you mention and at the risk of you bashing me over the head with a big stick, I've also got one on Enneagrams written by Laurie Schnebly Campbell which I absolutely love. There are examples of each type and she shows how they would all act in certain situations. I've done a few courses with Laurie and I think her teaching style is fab.

    Good luck with the new books!

  11. Culling books Abbi? Because your husband said so? I don't know if I'm more impressed by your husband being brave enough to actually tell you to get rid of some, or you finally realising every single one isn't essential reading...

    Joanne - now, Laurie does classes? that's very interesting! And another thing I can spend money I don't have on...thanks for that!

  12. I have several books on craft that I refer to often. One of my favorites is Writers Guide to Character Traits by Edelstein. It profiles personalities. Very cool. (Sorry!)

  13. I have Kate Walker's book and a couple on plotting but like you Jackie I often find it difficult to apply them to myself. I'm just too much of a seat of the pants writer I guess. I'm going to a weekend course Kate Walker is holding next month and in a way I'd prefer to spend my money on those - you bring back notes by the lecturer also the ones you write yourself, you make writing friends and also you don't have to find shelf room which I have precious little of as it is. However, whether it's books or courses I think you can have too much of a good thing. Nothing beats sitting down and getting on with it and sometimes I find reading 'how to' books is really me indulging in my favourite hobby of procrastination!

  14. Wendy! Bad lady! More books for me to go and scope out on Amazon, you are feeding my addiction!
    Cara - your course sounds fabulous with Kate Walker and I'd love to hear about it when you come back x