my brain on storytelling
Inspired by this post by Sarah Allen, "Tips for Editing Your Manuscript from a Real-Life Editor," as well as an email from a writer-friend asking about reference books on the craft of writing, I've put together a list of craft books that have each had a profound impact (at one time, and often ongoing) on my storytelling and craft skills.
I hope you'll find them useful!
[Ed. note: for me, the best way to learn was always through application. I would literally sit with one of these books propped open with one hand and a working manuscript in the other.]
“Save the Cat” by Blake Snyder is a great resource for plotting (you’ll notice it’s a book on screenwriting – screenwriters are some of the more talented storytellers of our age).
“Story” by Robert McKee, which is more philosophical and less cookbook, but still vitally important.
Another is I love “Emotional Structure” by Peter Dunne – I keep waiting for him to write another book, but he never does!
“A Dash of Style” is wonderful for understanding the art of punctuation.
“Style: Clarity and Grace” is fantastic for taking your writing craft to the next level.
These next two are from Donald Maass and James Scott Bell, two of the masters at the StoryMaster’s conference I attended in Nov 2013... which I HIGHLY recommend – most writing conferences are a complete waste of money. This was worth every penny.
I’ve been writing for six years, and lots of novels, so I’ve picked up lots of little things along the way. But each of these books make a distinct impression at one time or another.
Now go forth and make great art!