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Featured Article: The Divas’ Favorite Books on Writing

 

Today, I asked my sister-Divas to share with us their favorite books on writing. There are certain books on our shelves that collect dust and then there are those shining stars that we return to again and again. And we thought if they were helpful to us, maybe they would be helpful for you as well.

From editing to story crafting, if you are looking for a few good books to round out your shelves, these are the ones we recommend you choose..

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Jen:

 960886My favorite book on editing is… wait for it. The Copyeditor’s Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications by Amy Einsohn.
 
What I love about the book, other than the ironic fact that the title contains the word Copyeditor’s, which is the nontraditional spelling (M/W lists it as two words), is that it is written to work in conjunction with the most current edition of The Chicago Manual of Style and other style manuals. Since we use The Chicago Manual of Style as our style guide at Write Divas, it’s a consistent tool. But it expands on so much more–what a copy editor does, what are the basic procedures to follow, what are some different depths of copy editing.
In addition to punctuation and spelling, there’s an entire section on grammar. And it’s not just everyday grammar but things like subjunctive mood, the differentiation between fewer and less, and parallel form in series. The rules are clearly defined, and the examples are easy to understand. Having a reference on hand that I can touch, verify the rule, and continue on with my editing is priceless.
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Janine:

The First Five Pages BCThe First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman
This book was given to me by a dear friend. It is full of wonderful advice on keeping your manuscript out of the slush pile. Regardless of whether you are submitting your book to a publisher or doing it yourself, The First Five Pages is full of wonderful advice, examples and writing exercises to help any author improve.

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Writing 21st Century Fiction BCWriting 21st Century Fiction by Donald Maas
This book is a recent purchase and one that has quickly taken its place among my favorites. Not only does it guide authors through writing fiction for the twenty-first century, but it tackles topics the more experienced writer will appreciate, such as the inner and outer journeys, the three levels of story, characterization, beautiful writing, and more.
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The Writer's Little Helper BC
The Writer’s Little Helper by James V. Smith, Jr.
This little book is a great source for beginning writers. It explains the various elements of story telling, character development, pacing, believable dialogue, and so forth. This handy little book also appeals to the visual learner with examples of character sheets, graphs, charts, and checklists to help authors organize their writing.

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Lauren:

10569On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

“The road to hell is paved in adverbs.” is one of my favorite quotes by King. And his book On Writing is one of the best books a budding author can get their hands on. Not only does he encourage and support writers, he lends you his talent and experience and shows you how he works his magic. This book is a must read and really an eye opener.
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Shay:

I have two and I’ve referred to them before, but I will give them a nod again because they are just that useful.
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1034966The overuse of idioms and clichés is something I come across in almost every manuscript I edit. I find myself referring to The Dimwit’s Dictionary by Robert Hartwell Fiske more often than not when recommending revision for this type of issue.

So, if you find yourself relying on metaphors and common turns of phrase, this is the book for you. It’ll help you say what you want to say in your own words.

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13554235

Telling emotion instead of showing it is a huge problem first-time authors have. They tend to fall into the trap of using only a few emotions with their characters or repeating the same “showing” action over and over again throughout the manuscript. Because of this, I recommend The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi. It’s an excellent guide to help authors mix things up a bit.

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Comments

  1. Anne Hammond Says: May 8, 2014 at 2:32 am

    Emotion thesaurus is really helpful. However, I found Robert Hartwell Fiske patronising and smug. If everyone followed his advice, the English language would end up dull and unadorned by those lovely idioms which make up its richness – including the foreign words which are in everyday use. In addition, the first paragraph contains the word formulas (should be formulae) and throughout the bits I could manage to read, he uses ‘that’ as a relative pronoun instead of ‘which’. When I made that comment on his website … I was blocked. I guess he can dish it out, but doesn’t like to take it! Unlike the Divas, who accept my nitpicking with good grace.

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