The end of the year is always time for reflection. I’ve had a rather slow couple of months in terms of writing, but I’m still persisting and am excited for what the new year will bring. As I look back, there are a number of things that have helped me, and continue to help me, become a better writer. Support from other writers, inspiration from amazing novels, and of course books about writing which have offered insight and guidance. I thought I’d share these with you today.
On Writing – Stephen King
One of the most well known writing books out there. Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Stephen King is an ambitious writer, with well over 50 published novels to date. On Writing is an honest, and at times brutal, reflection on his life as a writer, and advice for those who want to be writers too. At times, I found myself thinking his advice was too idealistic. Shut yourself away and write, he says. Spend no more than three months on a first draft, he says. And I thought, it’s easy for you to say, with your full time writing career. But truth is, sometimes the only way to get out there is to put your head down and get on with it.
How this book made me a better writer: It taught me to stop procrastinating and just write.
Save The Cat! Writes A Novel – Jessica Brody
Another favourite amongst the writing community, and one I stupidly only picked up this year. This book is amazing. It’s split into helpful sections, and breaks down well known books to show us the beats that make a great story. There’s advice for every genre in this book, and plenty to take away and learn from.
How this book made me a better writer: It pulled me from a writer’s slump, and helped me plot my third novel.
Novel Writing – Romesh Gunesekera and A.L. Kennedy
Another book I only picked up this year, at a writing event. This book very much covers the basics of writing a novel, but in a way that is clear, concise and honest. I think this book is a perfect starting point for new writers, and an excellent bundle of reminders for those who have been writing for some time now. So either way, it’s a great read.
How this book made me a better writer: It reminded me that first drafts are allowed to be rushed, messy, riddled with plot holes and imperfect.
Getting Published -Harry Bingham
The most honest guide to getting published that you’ll ever find. This book highlights the struggle, the odds, the harsh reality that even getting an agent doesn’t mean your book will ever make it to a shelf in a bookshop. But it is also rammed with tips and advice to help unpublished writers pursue their dreams, with all the facts at hand. Despite the statistics shown here, this book is not discouraging. It’s the opposite. It encourages you to keep working on your goal, while providing useful insight knowledge.
How this book made me a better writer: It made me realise just how much effort needs to go into a novel if it’s ever going to have even a chance of getting published.
The Emotion Thesaurus – Angela Ackerman and Becca
This amazing book has a number of brothers and sisters to go alongside it. With everything from describing city settings, to positive and negative character traits. But this one will always be my favourite. The Emotion Thesaurus lists all the physical, emotional and mental responses to different feelings. You can add such a richness and depth to your characters and your story but reading through this book, or picking it up when a scene lacks emotion.
How this book made me a better writer: It enabled me to show how characters are feeling, by their external appearance and inner thoughts. No more telling instead of showing!
What books have helped you? Any from this list? Any more? I’d love to know, so drop a comment below.
Until then, keep writing,