Five Creative Writing Books Worth Paying For
When it comes to writing, it goes with out saying that a bit of talent and a lot of hard work (and free time...) is the key tool to driving forward and becoming a good writer. Sometimes, though, the hardest parts of writing until you feel like you could call your work the f word, (finished), are the more mechanical aspects and processes of writing your project. I for one feel as though coming up with the new ideas and imagining the play-by-play of a writing project is the easier, more free-flowing part; this part comes easily the more passionate you are about what you want to write.
What I really struggle with is filling in the gaps, joining up events in a way that doesn't cause the story to jump too much, making time in the working day to get that word count up, and finding the motivation to get my head down and edit what I've got on the page (which is really hard when you don't have a lot of free time).
Since I finished uni, and started working full time, with an hour long commute in a busy city where personal space is a myth, and then I get home exhausted with a bunch of chores to do and a social life to keep the balance, it becomes stressful feeling like you keep putting off the one thing you really want to do. I imagine a lot of people feel the same, and I have found often that when I don't have time to actually be writing, I can be doing things on the go that give me my creative fix to feel inspired about it, like reading on the train to work. There are many recommendations like these, but here are a few books about writing that I'm come across over the past few years that I found most helpful and motivating when it came to applying this information to practice, and worth paying for.
- The Elements of Eloquence by Mark Forsyth - A19th birthday present from a friend at university, this book is filled with weird and wonderful words that you may or may not ever use, but it certainly inspires you to be a closer reader, and fall a bit in love with the way words work. This is a good book if you aren't currently writing a project, but have some ideas brewing and you need some inspiration - or if you feel like your vocab needs a good stretch.
- Save The Cat by Blake Snyder - This one's probably my favourite book in this list that I recommend all the time. Even though it's specifically about screenwriting, this book will teach you how to structure your story, almost page by page. Sure, it uses the page numbers and structure of a screenplay, but with a bit of lateral thinking you can recalculate roughly how this translates to, say, a 100,000 word novel you want to write. The book will teach you all about beat sheets, how to write a scene, and how to plan, structure, and execute a good story, with all the twists and turns that make a good story.
- How Fiction Works by James Wood - This book was the key text of a prose writing module I studied at uni. It's a useful, easy to read study on the key elements of fiction, from pacing and dialogue, to detail and description, characterisation and narrative style, and more. This passionate case for the novel will get you excited to start writing that brewing idea you've been putting off, and you'll be much more prepared to get started.
- The Definitive Guide to Screenwriting by Syd Field - This book was a prize I received in school and it still comes with me every time I move house years later. Again, a screenwriting book, but they always seem to be the best instructions for writing a well structured story, especially with crafting the art of good dialogue.
- Author! Screenwriter! How to Succeed as a Writer in New York and Hollywood – Peter Miller. This book was a spontaneous gift from my uncle, who saw the book in a second hand shop and posted it to me. Yes, it says New York and Hollywood, and it makes a strong case of telling you you should move to either of these places, but with location and opportunity aside, this book will motivate you to finish that project. With more information on the industry side of being an author, with advice about agents and business as well as writing, this is a slightly different approach for a creative writing book and will get you excited about the possibility of the dream becoming a reality.