When I started working on Cricket and Grey I wanted to work in a more organized way than I had with The Winter Room because I wanted to avoid getting lost in pages of emotive crap that leads nowhere. What I really wanted was to avoid emotive crap altogether. I looked for a book that could serve as a guideline and found a great help in the book “Write Away” by Elizabeth George. I didn’t want someone to tell me what to write but how to structure a plot and story thoughtfully. Taking the time to work out a plot outline, do some character analysis, and to play with POV before digging myself into an enormous grave full of words made writing my second novel a completely different experience than the first. Each draft I wrote accomplished very specific things. I know that all writers have their own processes and mine, as it develops, will not match anyone else’s exactly. Still, I think it’s useful for writers to listen to other writers talk about writing. I think it’s useful for us to share notes, to compare notes, and to share ideas.
Through doing my agent research, looking for support with other writers, and reading advice from the trenches I’ve compiled a number of great reads (and a video) that I think most writers will find encouraging, interesting, and useful.
Elizabeth George is one of my favorite mystery writers. Though I admit I stopped reading the Lynley series a few books ago because I got really sick of Tommy and Helen’s inability to work their shit out and then she went and killed Helen anyway, so that’s alright. I have seen George speak and I really like her. So I bought her book and have found it very useful. Her message isn’t “If you write exactly like me you’re guaranteed success!” (because she’s not stupid), her book is meant as a guideline to writing fiction, not a gospel.
Anne Lamott is funny, she’s real, she’s honest, and her book “bird by bird” is a great collection of essays about writing she’s taken from the writing classes she teaches. It isn’t a manual (can you tell I don’t want anyone telling me the ONE way to write?) so much as it’s collected perspective from a seasoned and respected author. Reading her book was illuminating and made me want to shove the book back on the shelf, roll my sleeves up, and write.
Edited by Marie Arana. This book is a collection of essays written by writers about writing (the process, the editing, the rejection slips, the magic, the slogging). There are a couple of essays I didn’t get much out of but most of them had interesting perspectives and showed the diverse range of ways one can approach and succeed at writing. Some of the writers have written only a couple books that took years to write while others write a book a year.
Here are some blogs I’m finding useful and entertaining right now:
The Novel Doctor An editor talks about novel writing and reveals your deepest insecurities. He also says some useful things and cracks the whip against your indolent ways.
Query Shark Excellent site a friend shared with me while I was trying to write a query letter and was 100% bombing. I’m still working at it but at least I’m avoiding many of the biggest mistakes thanks to this witty and ruthless agent who really wants you to write better queries.
Rachelle Gardner Another literary agent whose blog has many truly interesting and many useful articles about the business of publishing books. She’s not the agent for me as she almost exclusively represents Christian fiction, but I think her blog is great.
Agent Query This is a great site to look for agents with. It is reputable and has good information on query writing, looking for agents, and other things you’ll want to know such as how long an unpublished author’s first novel should be (yeah, this is useful to know before you’ve finished writing it).
Terrible Minds I would truly love to get Chuck Wendig together with my Grandma just to see who would win that inevitable clash sharp tongued titans. His profanity is breathtaking (as in – I’ve never heard anyone swear so much who wasn’t a stand up comedian) and he finds the most shocking ways of making everything sound pornographic. His writing advice is gritty but completely sound.
Novel: First draft, Second draft revision… I loved this post and am enjoying her blog.
25 Things You Should Know About Suspense And Tension In Storytelling I had to give you an actual post to check out from Wendig’s blog.
Editor Alan Rinzler & Literary Agent Andy Ross On All Things Publishing This is a video interview with a written transcription. It’s long but well worth watching.