Thursday, January 12, 2012

A quartet of extremely helpful how-to books

Decades ago, as I was first learning the craft of writing fiction (and, hopefully, you and I will always grow as writers) I read about three dozen how-to books on the subject. Here are the four I found most helpful (two of them are by one of my favorite novelists, Orson Scott Card).

Making Shapely Fiction by Jerome Stern, a well-loved writing teacher from the MFA Writing Program at Florida State University.

Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card, the highly skilled author of fantasy and science-fiction (who won both the Hugo AND the Nebula two years in a row, for Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead). This is one of the most practical, helpful writing books ever penned. If you can only afford one of these books, buy this one.

How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, also by Card, should NOT be considered a book that would only be of use to writers of speculative fiction. It also contains terrific general advice on craft that will be useful to a writer in any genre.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King. Read this and painstakingly follow its excellent advice for polishing your manuscript BEFORE you submit it to an agent or editor. (Of course this book is a MUST for self-published authors who are skipping the services of editors altogether.)

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