A (short) Writer’s Reading List
Back in August, when I published my ebook on novel-writing,NOVEL, lack of space decreed that I had to trim down and tweak, losing the planning notes alluded to in Step 4 (which can now be found a few posts back on here) and my short closing notes about books I’d mentioned. ‘I’ll pop that on the website,’ I remember thinking/deciding/planning, and then, as is typical, I forgot.
I blame my iPhone entirely, since that’s what they were invented for, but now – hulloo hallay – I have finally remembered. So here, for your reading pleasure, it, um, is:
NOVEL: a writer’s reading list
I have mentioned several books and writers in the process of compiling NOVEL, all of which have, at some point, provided education, explanation, inspiration and consolation, during the journey I travelled to become that ‘jobbing writer’. I still have my copies of them all, mostly battered; as with people, they have become rather more crumpled with age, but none the less brilliant for all that.
Yes, on my early copy those Ls really were rendered as pound signs. How terribly vulgar. Or how terribly clever, along with the sentiment in the strapline. I would write for shirt buttons but, like many a writer before me, had the same financial dreams as any other ambitious young scribbler. Buying this tome, therefore, was a must. I read it in two enormous sittings (a long haul flight was involved) and once I was done, I went back to the beginning and read it again more slowly. And after I’d done that, I began writing my first novel. I can’t thank Sarah enough for penning How to Write a Blockbuster. It was the book that made me say ‘Lynne, now just go do it.’ And then I did. Track it down. I bet you’ll feel like that too.
If you’ve yet to read this you are in for such a treat. Part memoir, of the author’s life, and the year following his terrible – and well documented – road accident, this is a deeply personal look into the creative process, a la King, and is, for me, at least, incredibly inspirational.
If you want to indulge in some mental gymnastics and think hard about what storytelling and narrative generally is all about, this is an engrossing and thought provoking read. I found it fascinating.
I must own up; Jane is one of my best pals – we go back years now – and also a fabulously fresh and funny writer. No, I didn’t have this to hand when I was one of the great unpublished and, yes, I am quoted in it, so am possibly biased, but it’s jam- packed with hints, tips and illuminating anecdotes, about both writing and writers. You will laugh out loud more than once, i promise.
Also treasured, but out of print (go google; bet you’ll be able to find one) are Writers on Writing by Alison Gibbs – interviews with several of the UK and the USA’s bestselling novelists, and 20 Master Plots and How to Build Them by Ronald B Tobias – which does exactly what it says on the tin.
I would also urge every writer to beg, steal or blag their own copy of the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations – fabulous for themed browsing and, in times of scant hope or motivation, for choosing the prefect quote to go in the front of the novel that you will – oh yes you will – finally finish.