I have many books sitting on my bookshelves (what avid reader doesn’t?), the majority of which are fiction. But a few are non-fiction: my reference books. Ah, yes. A quintessential, writerly thing to have, those tomes of inspiration. I’ve read most of the ones I own, but not all. Eventually, I’ll get around to the others, and then probably make another blog post, a part two, about more reference books for writing. Until then, my friends, here are the ones I’ve read and would recommend to anyone interested in improving their craft:
In Your First Novel, a seasoned literary agent and author team up to give you the inside scoop of what happens behind the scenes, from query letter to publication. They give helpful tips on how to submit your manuscript to an agent and get it noticed amid the slush pile.
The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman
The ultimate goal of The First Five Pages is to teach you how to capture an agent's (and reader's) attention within the--you guessed it--first five pages and keep them reading until the very end.
The Plot Thickens by Noah Lukeman
Another great book by Noah Lukeman. He's seen his fair share of promising story-lines, but when it comes to delivering on that story, a lot of people fail miserably. In The Plot Thickens, Noah discusses how you can make your characters and plot more three-dimensional.
How to Write a Damn Good Novel teaches you just that. In this book, you'll learn the basics of storytelling, from beginning to end.
And in this follow-up, James Frey gives advice to a more advanced audience. If you've mastered How to Write a Damn Good Novel, then How to Write a Damn Good Novel II is a must-have for more in-depth writing.
Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass
This book is great for any writer--seasoned or beginner. Donald Maass ensures that you understand the gist of why all great novels became such hits. Writing the Breakout Novel can either help you write an amazing first book, or it can help you write an amazing thirteenth book.
The Emotion Thesaurus is an absolute must-have for any writer's collection. When you're struggling with basic emotional responses for your characters, this book teaches you how to show emotions rather than tell what those emotions are. When it comes to writing, showing is not easy, but it definitely pays off.
And this final one is just for fun, if you happen to run out of story ideas. Most of the prompts are kooky, but some may end up being your next breakout novel. You never know.