NaNoDodo Day 13: Your Favourite Books About Writing

By Anne Perry

Posted on November 13, 2014 in Books with tags Nanododo, Writing Advice

We’ve featured three of my favourite books about writing – today we’re going to look at some of yours! I asked Twitter to share their favourite books about the art and craft of writing. You all positively flooded both my personal Twitter account and the Hodderscape Twitter with a staggering list of suggestions. So I’ve arranged them in alphabetical order here, with a few of your comments.

  • Adventures in the Screen Trade – William Goldman
  • Becoming a Writer – Dorothea Brand
  • Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott
  • Danse Macabre – Stephen King
  • How Not to Write a Novel – Sandra Newman & Howard Mittlemark
  • How Not to Write a Screenplay – Denny Martin Flynn (@Hitchcocked calls it ‘idiotproof’)
  • Into the Woods – John Yorke
  • Make Every Word Count – Gary Provost
  • On Becoming a Novelist – John Gardner
  • Save the Cat – Blake Snyder
  • Screenwriting 101 – @FilmCritHulk
  • The Truth about Fiction – Steven Schoen
  • The Usborne Write Your Own Story Book – Louie Stowell (@karenlawler says ‘may be aimed at 8 year olds but is awesome’
  • The Writing Life – Annie Dillard (@we4poets says ‘gets you back to the keyboard determined to do better! ‘)
  • Three Uses of the Knife: On the Nature and Purpose of Drama – David Mamet
  • We Have Always Fought – Kameron Hurley
  • Writing a Thriller – Andre Jute
  • Wordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life – Doug Wilson: (@calebwoodbridge says “Read until your brain creaks” and other good advice)
  • Wonderbook – Jeff Van Der Meer
  • 99 Ways to Tell a Story – Matt Madden

Pixar’s 22 rules for phenomenal storytelling are well worth your time:

No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.

Adam Baker pointed us toward David Mamet’s Master Class Memo to the Writers of The Unit, and we’re glad he did! It’s wonderful. Also, in all caps.

THE JOB OF THE DRAMATIST IS TO MAKE THE AUDIENCE WONDER WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. NOT TO EXPLAIN TO THEM WHAT JUST HAPPENED, OR TO*SUGGEST* TO THEM WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.

Finally, I’d like to throw a recommendation in for the Turkey City Lexicon – A Primer for SF Workshops. This is an online, uncopyrighted and totally invaluable resource for all writers everywhere, not just SF writers. It’s hilarious and very, very useful. Also, the more of you who read it, the more of you will understand when I start a sentence with ‘as you know, Bob…’

A pernicious form of info-dump through dialogue, in which characters tell each other things they already know, for the sake of getting the reader up-to-speed. This very common technique is also known as “Rod and Don dialogue” (attr. Damon Knight) or “maid and butler dialogue” (attr Algis Budrys).

 

 

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