I don't know about the rest of you, but I have one book that I'm reading for the third (or is it the fourth?) time. I usually wait a couple of months before I'll pick it up and read through it again, and each time I find I understand more and that I've matured one more step in my writing skills because of it.
So what is this book that's practically become my writing bible and one that has taken up residense by my computer? It's been mentioned time and time again by other Hatrackers: SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS.
I know we all have our favorites. This just happens to be mine though I have others too. As my skills grow, I find I look at what this book has to say in a new light every time I pick it up, and I feel it shows in my work more and more all the time.
Have any of you experienced this? I know its an incredible feeling to have your eyes opened just a bit more and understand a little better how to get your story across with a hair more professionalism. It's a great feeling.
I've noticed the same thing with several books, and one of them is the Brown/King work you mention.
I think it's a fairly common thing that as we become more immersed in an endeavor we are more prepared to understand what an expert is saying. One area for me was the oft-discussed topic of the "rules". As an eager new student I looked at the "rules" as absolutes and accepted (or sometimes rejected) them as such. As I worked with them (really within them) I began to understand that they were really tools to help keep one's eye on the ball, and eventually began to use them as such. So what I once viewed as limitations I eventually started putting to work for me.
Another area was the topic of character development and what it takes for a reader to develop a strong interest in a character. I had an epiphany along that road that made me completely reverse a large amount of what I believed was important in the realm of writing.
The cool thing is that what at first appeared hopelessly complicated when viewed from the perspectives introduced in the academic study of literature is actually much simpler on it's core level: the individual connection to a reader.
That doesn't make it any less difficult, but it's far more encouraging to keep at it when we begin to envision what lies at the heart of success.
I've found OSC's Characters and Viewpoint to be the most significant book for me so far. I look back at some old stuff and I had no idea about pov, everything was an omniscient narrator. This book has organized the thoughts in my head so that I can (hopefully) do a better job of telling the story.
Since the first story I wrote after reading this book also became my first piece sold, I'd say that it's a pretty good indication of my writing maturing. It does feel good to see that kind of progress even if I know there's still a long way to go.
I started studying story structure at storyfix.com (I think that's the URL). It was an eye opener, to be sure. It's changed the way I watch movies and read books, and I've quickly discovered the problems with all of my novel attempts.
Right now I'm in the pre-writing stage of a novel, and the work is going tremendously. I feel in command of the material, like I know what I'm doing.