Hatrack River
Home   |   About Orson Scott Card   |   News & Reviews   |   OSC Library   |   Forums   |   Contact   |   Links
Research Area   |   Writing Lessons   |   Writers Workshops   |   OSC at SVU   |   Calendar   |   Store
E-mail this page
Hatrack River Writers Workshop Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Writing books...rated.

   
Author Topic: Writing books...rated.
skadder
Member
Member # 6757

 - posted      Profile for skadder   Email skadder         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I thought it would be a useful resource to list and rate writing books, so people can identify trends...and make purchasing decisions.

Rating 1-5

1=useless--don't buy.

5=excellent--buy

B=for beginner writers--covers the basics.

A=advanced stuff, if you have the basics already.

I have:

Characters and Viewpoints - Orson Scott Card--(B and A) (5) -- buy it now!

How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy - Orson Scott Card-(B) (4) --very good.

On Writing - Stephen KIng - (B) (3) - interesting, but not much in it--some good advice.

Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular - Rust Hills - (A-B) (4) -- some excellent bits, but seemed geared towards a more literary style than I write.


Posts: 2987 | Registered: Oct 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Wolfe_boy
Member
Member # 5456

 - posted      Profile for Wolfe_boy   Email Wolfe_boy         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Only two books on my shelf:

1. On Writing - Stephen King. B - 5.

2. The Elements of Style - William Strunk, Jr., and E. B. White. B - 5


Posts: 731 | Registered: Apr 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
arriki
Member
Member # 3079

 - posted      Profile for arriki   Email arriki         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'll skip the "don't buy" ones. For me, there are far too many to list.

On the MUST buy list --

Jack Bickham's SCENE AND SEQUEL ***** difficult to really understand but one of the few books that actually talks about how to write stories -- the difference between scenes and sequels, motivation and response in the actual text, stuff like that

Dwight Swain'S TECHNIQUES OF THE SELLING WRITER ***** Bickham’s mentor and like a different view of the techniques Bickham tries to explain

SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS by Browne and King ***** especially the chapter on “beats”

THE 3RD ACT by Drew Yanno ***** definitely for more advanced writers -- an involved discussion of how to develop the END of your story (Screenwriting text, but what he discusses is absolutely critical to novels and short stories also)

Card's already mentioned *****

STORY by Robert McKee ***** (another screenwriting text, but most of it is about how to form stories)

STORY SENSE by Paul Lucey ***** (and yet another screenwriting text – this one covers parts of storywriting that McKee doesn’t. You need both books.)

20 MASTER PLOTS AND HOW TO BUILD THEM by Ronald Tobias *** a good book that gets into really discussing the major plots and what the underlying steps are in their creation

SUSPENSE IN THE FORMULA STORY by George Dove *** -- it’s about mysteries and mystery composition but has some very insightful material that applies universally like the difference between “peeling an onion” type of story and “rolling a snowball” story

BETWEEN THE LINES by Jessica Morrell **** good but not quite on the level of some of these other books. A good one for a new writer or an intermediate one

THE ART OF PLOTTING by Linda Cowgill *** I’m currently studying this one. Once again, a screenwriting text. It’s not as easy to get the insights pinned down as in the other screenwriting texts, but it has helped firm up some of notions about plotting stories

[This message has been edited by arriki (edited November 20, 2009).]


Posts: 1580 | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
babooher
Member
Member # 8617

 - posted      Profile for babooher   Email babooher         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Chris Vogler's The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers is pretty good. It is based on the ideas presented in Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
Posts: 719 | Registered: May 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Teraen
Member
Member # 8612

 - posted      Profile for Teraen   Email Teraen         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'd add in Noah Lukeman's First Five Pages as a 4B. Good for editing and avoiding really common mistakes.

All my other favorites are already listed.


Posts: 496 | Registered: May 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
aspirit
Member
Member # 7974

 - posted      Profile for aspirit   Email aspirit         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
How Not to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them - A Misstep-by-Misstep Guide by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman (A-B) (5) - It's like a blind critiquer who'll sit on your desk all day long. Many of the mistakes apply to short fiction, as well.

The Joy of Writing Sex: A Guide for Fiction Writers by Elizabeth Benedict (A) (4) - I would rate this as a 5, except the book's examples might be too graphic and varied for some households/offices. If you're even considering the possibility of one day writing a sex scene, or alluding to one, then this is a great resource.

[This message has been edited by aspirit (edited November 20, 2009).]


Posts: 1136 | Registered: May 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Wolfe_boy
Member
Member # 5456

 - posted      Profile for Wolfe_boy   Email Wolfe_boy         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Slipping into my Callus-Jaded-Amateur robe for a moment, I wonder what the ratio of dollars spent on how-to-write books to dollars earned from writing is...

I know which way my particular scale is tipping, and it's not in my favor.


Posts: 731 | Registered: Apr 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
InarticulateBabbler
Member
Member # 4849

 - posted      Profile for InarticulateBabbler   Email InarticulateBabbler         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The most-valuable books I've found so far are:
Hands down:
  • Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card (5; B and A) (This book was full of epiphanies fro me.)
  • Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass (5; B and A) (This book was full of epiphanies for me.)
  • Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King
  • The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White. (5; B and A) (This can be found for free, online here)

Also good, but not "essential":

  • Writing for Story by Jon Franklin (Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner) (4; B and A)
  • On Writing Well by William Zinsser (4; B mostly, but A, too)
  • Writing the Novel from Plot to Print by Lawrence Block (4; B and A. Similar to Character and Viewpoint, even shares striking resemblences.)
  • Telling Lies for Fun and Profit by Lawrence Block 4; B and A)
  • On Writing by Stephen King (5: B)
  • Writing to the Point by Algis Budrys (4; B)
  • Plot and Structure James Scott Bell (3 & 1/2; B)
  • How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card (5; B)

I also feel that anyone who isn't receiving David Farland's Daily Kick in the Pants in their email (considering it's free and he's been a WotF judge for years) is missing out on another great Beginner and Advanced resource--though it is geared toward the advanced writer.

[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited November 21, 2009).]


Posts: 3662 | Registered: Jan 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
skadder
Member
Member # 6757

 - posted      Profile for skadder   Email skadder         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
All my other favorites are already listed.

I guess the point was to list them anyway and give your personal rating of the book. That way someone reading this thread can see, for example, that ten people have a particular book and they all rate it highly.

Perhaps extrinsic can do some stats when we have enough of a sample!

[This message has been edited by skadder (edited November 21, 2009).]


Posts: 2987 | Registered: Oct 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robert Nowall
Member
Member # 2764

 - posted      Profile for Robert Nowall   Email Robert Nowall         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Truth to tell, I usually only got a little here and a little there out of writing books. Either they weren't clear---or I was incapable of learning from them. I'm not sure which.

Still, the little here and little there did give me a few things to help move things along...often they taught me how to take apart the stories of others, and that probably helped me put my own stories together.

*****

It's hard to single out one favorite among many, but probably my favorite was Dean Koontz's How to Write Best-Selling Fiction. Though I've never been much of a fan of his work, I found the book had a lot to offer, as well as being highly entertaining. (Never had a copy myself, though...I took the copy out of the library about a dozen times.)

I'll rate it a "5."

*****

Some of your titles I've read, some I haven't...the title The Joy of Writing Sex intrigues me enough that I hope I remember it the next time I'm book shopping...


Posts: 8232 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
LlessurNire
Member
Member # 8781

 - posted      Profile for LlessurNire   Email LlessurNire         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
thanks inarticulatebabbler for the mention of David Farland's Daily Kick in the Pants....i signed up

edited to add:

thanks also skadder for this discussion, I plan on picking up OSC's books on writing this Christmas...I have none to recommend at this time, I haven't had the best of luck with books about writing, finding the most helpful advice on websites such as this one!

[This message has been edited by LlessurNire (edited November 21, 2009).]


Posts: 85 | Registered: Sep 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Owasm
Member
Member # 8501

 - posted      Profile for Owasm   Email Owasm         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I bought a slew of books for my birthday and haven't made my way through all of them. If you read these books close together, I've found a lot of overlap.

I found the First Five Pages by Noah Lukemanto be an enjoyable read, but my favorite remains Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. I found it an A - A.

I'm in the middle of Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain. It's up there too along with Characters and Viewpoint by OSC.

Two things that have given me some good perspective. I signed up for David Farland's A Daily Kick in the Pants and Writing Excuses podcasts. The are an A for beginners and probably a B or C for experienced.

[This message has been edited by Owasm (edited November 21, 2009).]


Posts: 1582 | Registered: Feb 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Architectus
Member
Member # 8809

 - posted      Profile for Architectus   Email Architectus         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
On Writing- 3
Between the Lines, by Jessica Morrel- 4, but worth the read.
Anatomy of Story, John Truby- 5
Style, any version, by Joseph Williams- 5 Much better and more detailed thant Elements of Style.

Here is one, though old, is very useful and free. Like Style and Elements of Style, it deals with writing clearly.

http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/22600

Scene and Sequel and MRUs by Dwight and such is very helpful, but they make it difficult to understand. So I put together a video series that explains it in an easy to understand way. People love it so far.

http://www.youtube.com/user/architectus777#g/c/35D27B9EC9009180


Posts: 161 | Registered: Sep 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
arriki
Member
Member # 3079

 - posted      Profile for arriki   Email arriki         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I went to the site you listed but couldn't find anything about writing at all, just photoshop stuff.
Posts: 1580 | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
arriki
Member
Member # 3079

 - posted      Profile for arriki   Email arriki         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I discovered on my own a long time ago the key to understanding "scene" and "sequel" is that a scene is a scene the point of which is an action (John shoots Tony) whereas a sequel is a scene the point of which is a decison (John goes through the decision process of deciding to shoot Tony).

Action scenes have goal - conflict(development)- disaster(scene point made) parts
This is where the Motivation-Reaction stuff comes into play

Sequels are all about the steps to making a decision

EMOTION of some sort triggers making the decision
REVIEW is about considering what leads up to the decision
ANALYSIS is looking for ways to accomplish what is wanted - pros and cons or various plans or alternatives
DECISION is making the decision

Sequels CAN be meditative OR dramatized. They are sometimes difficult to differentiate from actual scenes. They advance the story but with a DECISION, not an action.


There is a lot more to scene and sequel. Lots of variation but this the heart of it. The bedrock. The foundation.

[This message has been edited by arriki (edited November 22, 2009).]


Posts: 1580 | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Phobos
Member
Member # 8883

 - posted      Profile for Phobos   Email Phobos         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
All the books on writing I have read and found useful have been mentioned here so I thought that I would add to this list the Podcasts on writing I find useful. You can download them from the links that I provided or directly from the Itunes store online for free.

www.sff.net/Odyssey/podcasts.html
This is a very great resource for intermediate to advanced level writers. They are recorded lectures from various odyssy workshops from a variety of keynote and prolific guest lecturers. The lectures are categorized so you can snag one on a topic that you are interested in or one in which you feel that your writin may benefit.

The best thing about podcast besides being free is that you can listen to them on the commute to and from work or other times (like when you are washing the dishes) when you wouldn't be able to pick up a book.

www.stormwolf.com/thesecrets/podcasts/
This is Michael Stackpole's writing podcast which is very informative. He is a very sucessful writer and offers alot of wisdom. Although some of it seems irelevant to the newcomming writers, as he discusses alot of inside publishing information which doesn't really pertain to the unpublished.

www.learnoutloud.com/Podcast-Directory/...and.../Writing

This is the Grammar Girl Podcast. A good one a day that discusses grammar and usage.

isbw.murlafferty.com/

I Should be writing podcast. This is another one I like to listen to weekly.

There are many others that yo can search by browsing the web or the Itunes store. Many are sorted into genre or other specialities, so I recomend finding ones you like or need.

Merriam Webster has an online Word of the day type podcast which is great for vocabulary building. I often get ridiculed for reading the dictionary so this is a good way to get a dose without hefting around a dictionary. My Ipod nano ways a few pounds less also.

I suppose I should honor the rating sytem imposed by the host of this thread.

Micheal Stackpole's "Secrets of Writing"
4A
Murl Lafferty's "I should be writing"
4B
Grammar Girl
5B
Odyssey Writers Workshop
5AB
American Writers.Com- Creative Writing Podcast
3.5B
Grammar Grater
3B
The Grim Reader's Screenwriting Podcast
2A
Write That Script
4A
Writing Challenges Podcast
3B

[This message has been edited by Phobos (edited November 22, 2009).]


Posts: 96 | Registered: Nov 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
genevive42
Member
Member # 8714

 - posted      Profile for genevive42   Email genevive42         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Both of OSC's books, 'Characters and Viewpoint' and 'How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy' are excellent. 5B/A for the first and 5B for the second.

I've hesitated on buying other books because I don't want to get something that's a waste of time or worse, gives bad advice. With the list compiled here I'm going to pick a few that get repeated as very good and give them a shot.

With coupon in hand I'm off to Borders.

skadder, thanks for this posting and thank you everyone for your valuable input. It has turned out to be very fortunate timing.


Posts: 1987 | Registered: Jul 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
InarticulateBabbler
Member
Member # 4849

 - posted      Profile for InarticulateBabbler   Email InarticulateBabbler         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm also finding Writing the Block Buster Novel by Albert Zuckerman to be invaluable about outlines (if you can handle a step-by-step process of going from rough outline to a polish). It covers what Writng the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass doesn't. Zuckerman's doesn't read as fast as Maass's, but it is excellent information, none-the-less. So, I'd also rate it a 5-A.
Posts: 3662 | Registered: Jan 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
mikemunsil
Member
Member # 2109

 - posted      Profile for mikemunsil   Email mikemunsil         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
http://wiki.libertyhallwriters.org/doku.php?id=books:the_goatboy_reviews
Posts: 2710 | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
dougsguitar
Member
Member # 8922

 - posted      Profile for dougsguitar   Email dougsguitar         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Ernest Hemingway on Writing - 4A - a collection of letter and conversation excerpts.

Julia Cameron; The Right to Write, An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life - 5+/A&B - More inspiration oriented than tech stuff, yet packed with the gut-stirring how to do it.


Posts: 123 | Registered: Dec 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2