all writers overwrite (including Shakespeare!)

Six more books which can help you hone your writing skills!

Alan Ayckbourn’s The Crafty Art of Playmaking is about playwriting, yes, but an awful lot of what he says can be applied to fiction writing – replace audience with “reader’ and you’ll see what I mean.  I especially enjoy Alan’s “obvious rules”, of which there are 101 throughout the book:

Obvious rule No. 45  All  writers overwrite (including Shakespeare).

Obvious rule No.33 The best comedy springs from the utterly serious.

Obvious rule No. 21 Your characters must undergo a journey too. Not just the plot.

Obvious rule No. 55 Trust your instincts.

Obvious rule No. 63 Take the plunge.

Obvious rule No. 48 Stars eat authors for breakfast.

Taking Reality by Surprise edited by Susan Sellers  is one of those books which has a ton of exercises written by a bunch of different women writers. I’m not a fan of these compilation type books as a rule, but this is full of practical stuff to keep you writing. You can dip and out as the mood takes you and depending on what you’re looking for help on. There are sections on Beginnings; Freeing The Imagination; Finding a Subject; Finding A Voice; Openings; Continuings/Genre; Keeping Going; Writing Skills; Endings and Publication. It’s a worthy addition to any writer’s bookshelf.

 Dianne Doubtfire’s The Craft of Novel Writing is a great little book, full of useful information. The blurb says

“With a wealth of quotations from contemporary writers, this is a practical, no-nonsense guide to inform and inspire.”

And that’s exactly what it is. One of my favourite quotes is:

“Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do … Try to be better than yourself.” William Faulkner

John Gardner’s On Becoming A Novelist is another one of these books that talks about what it is like to be a writer. I am a big fan of John G. In this book he describes:

“the life of a working novelists; warns what needs to be guarded against, both from within the writer and without; and predicts what the writer can reasonably expect and, what, in general, he or she cannot.”

Betsy Lerner’s The Forest for the Trees is economical and witty and an editor’s advice to writers. I reviewed this before, just follow the link 🙂

Creative Writing a Workbook with Readings, edited by Linda Anderson  This book forms part of the Open University A215 Creative Writing course, which I used to teach. It’s a complete writing course, written by different writers and very thorough. Of the two university course books I have on my book shelf  (the other being The Creative Writing Coursebook from the University of East Anglia), I prefer this one. It really is excellent and will …

“… jump start your writing and guide you through the first steps towards publication.  It covers fiction writing, poetry and life writing.”

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