For today’s post I decided to share three books I think every writer attempting to draft a novel should read.
The first, without a doubt, is James Scott Bell’s Super Structure: The Key to Unleashing the Power of Story. (When I was in graduate school we said you could tell if a book or article was worth the read if it had a colon and a subtitle.) You may recall, I mentioned this book in an earlier post when I first heard of it at a writers group. I had ordered the book at that time, but now I’ve read it. Twice.
When to read Bell's book? Although Bell contends you can apply the fourteen signposts at any time in the process of writing, I suggest you read the book before you start your next project, then use it as a reference point from that point on.
The second book I think all novelists should own is The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglis. This book is extremely helpful in finding ways a character might express a particular feeling he or she is having through body language and so forth. Though it is possible it does not have the exact emotional response you were going for, it is likely to trigger the action or thought you need.
When to use The Emotion Thesaurus? This is one you need to have at the ready, during the drafting process.
The third book I want on my shelf is Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Rennni Browne and Dave King. The one I have came out in 2004. Oh how I wish I had read it then! Or not. It is not the easiest book to read –almost textbookish. I may not have had the notion I needed it back then. Now that I’ve been down the publication road, I’m more open to what I call deep self-editing. I’m not talking misspelled words or grammar/sentence construction. I’m talking about developmental editing.
When to apply the Self-Editing text? Although you'll want to familiarize yourself with the basic principles in the book (saving you time later), this is a book you will pull out about three weeks after your completed first draft has been in a drawer for at least three weeks. You need that time to separate yourself from the story before you take a deeper look at your manuscript.
Bell also has a book on self-editing I want to read. It is called Revision and Self-Editing. Why another book? Because learning your craft is never a "one and done" experience. If you are serious about writing to get published then part of what you do is invest in education yourself. These books will be a great start to your fiction writing career.