Tuesday, February 3, 2009

What are your favorite cookbooks?

For today’s thoughts on craft, I’m going to throw out a few books I have either recently studied or are currently studying. I’ll just be a month late (I’m almost always a dollar short) and admit that one of my writing goals for 2009 is to study plot.

First and foremost, if you don’t have a copy of Deb Dixon’s Goals, Motivation, and Conflict then you need to go straight to http://www.debradixon.com/gmc.html and get one. This book is for all of you who keep getting compliments on your writing style and your voice but can’t get sold because of comments like “there’s too much coincidence” or “your characters lack motivation and internal conflict.” Then, for those who want to learn more, stay tuned for more information about when Deb might be in town.

Another book that I just picked up is called Story by Robert McKee. While this book is designed for screenwriters, several people give it a glowing endorsement including novelists and comic book writers. It contains great principles for successful commercial story-telling through a discussion of age-old themes and archetypes.

Another book I just picked up is The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman. If you’ve ever been too afraid to participate in cold reads or, if you’re like me and have had your manuscript cut off before the end of the first page, this should be the book for you.

I also can’t wait for Dianna Love and Mary Buckham’s Break into Fiction workshop this March. For those of you who won’t be able to attend, check out the book which should be available soon through Amazon.com. For more information, go to http://www.breakintofiction.com/booklist.html .

So, what are some of the other tools of the trade? What books have you discovered recently? Or, what are the books that you simply can’t write without?


Cyrano said...

I'm a huge fan of Deb Dixon's GMC. Great book, easy to read, easy to understand.
I'm definitely going to check out the other two you mentioned. They sound promising.
I like Save the Cat too. It's a tad harder to translate into my writing, but maybe someday I'll get the hang of it.
By the way everyone, I just got a rejection from the Knight Agency!! Everyone applaud please, cause that means I'm sending stuff out!
Sally thanks for the useful post.
have a great afternoon!

Sally Kilpatrick said...

Way to go, Tamara!

And for those of you who still have a hard time pushing your little babies out of the next, may I recommend The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes. Read it and be more like Tamara! : )

CiCi Barnes said...

Of course, GMC goes without saying. I must admit I didn't get it until about 6 months ago, even though I'd heard its praises for several years. Yes, the praises were warrented.

A book I discovered quite by accident is "Manuscript Makeover - Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can afford to Ignore" by Elizbeth Lyon. It's wonderful for those who have finally written "The End" and now have to fix that baby. It received a big thumbs up in The Writer's Digest.

There's always at least one book out there that picks each of us up on our writing. Thanks Sally, for giving us this day to relate our help-me-out to everyone.

And kudos to you, Tamara. A big ATTA GIRL for getting it out there.


Tami Brothers said...

Hey Sally,

Great idea. I too love GMC by Deb Dixon. Can't wait until her workshop (oh, I love intrigue!!!). I'll definitely look at that other one, as well as the ones Tamara and Cici mentioned. All sound like keepers.

One I like is Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King (this is my major area where I have issues!!!). I love how they simplify everything. For someone who hates to wade through detail, this is a must!!!

Way to go Tamara!!! That is a huge step up from last year!!! Keep it up and I can't wait to read more of those (and the acceptance ones, too)....

Tami Brothers

Linsey Lanier said...

I've read most of the books mentioned and loved all of them. I'm a sucker when it comes to books on the craft of fiction writing. I bought my autographed copy of GMC at my first Moonlight and Magnolias conference a few years ago. It was so easy to read, I finished it in a few days and was able to write a decent synopsis for the first time. GMC is magic.

I loved Story, though it is both thick (in size) and heavy (in theory). Robert McKee developed the seminar that corresponds to the book while he was a professor at USC.

Save the Cat is a fun read and good for digesting story structure.

Congratulations, Tamara. Good for you. Keep sending stuff out (I am also looking in the mirror as I say that.)


Sandy Elzie said...


Great post. I think my favorite book, the one I studied over and over was Donald Maass' Writing The Breakout Novel. I read it...excuse me....I studied it and then about 4 months later I read that he was doing a seminar in Oregon. Since I lived in California at the time, I bought an airline ticket, kissed hubby goodbye and went to his training class. Money well spent. When he went to sign my copy of the book, he had to hunt for a space to write since I have the inside front cover and blank sheet covered with notes and page numbers. He was surprised, but pleased.

Yeah for our girls getting those rejections. That means you finished a book and had the guts to put yourself "out there".


Debbie Kaufman said...

GMC was the first book I acquired for writing. I've also enjoyed Chris Roerden's Don't Murder Your Mystery. I also learned a lot from Stephen King's On Writing.

Marilyn Baron said...

I also like Stephen King's "On Writing." I have "Save The Cat" but haven't read it yet. I took a seminar at RWA Nationals with the author, Blake Syner and it was wonderful.

Other books I have in my writing library include, "Writing the Block Buster Novel," by Albert Zuckerman; "The Novel Writer's Toolkit" by Bob Mayer; "Building Better Plots," by Robert Kernen; "Screenplay, The Foundations of Screenwriting," by Syd Field and of course Goal, Motivation & Conflict."

Congratulations on submitting Tamara. And I know you will suceed. I just read your Chapter Two of the Group Novel and I loved it.

Jessica Doyle said...

Applause for Tamara!

I was impressed by an essay of Eric Maisel's that appeared in RWR (a transcription of a speech he gave?) so I got Coaching the Artist Within out of the library and renewed it twice before finally giving it back. He has a section about writing "in the middle of things" that I found useful.

Also people here might like Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird.

Darcy Crowder said...

I know I'm chiming in here late, it's Friday after all, but I LOVE Anne Lamott's Bird By Bird! Wonderful, wonderful book.

Tamara - congratulations! Keep up the good work. I'll bet your big sale is just around the corner.

Sandry - I have Writing the Breakout Novel. Maybe I should go back and read it again. :)