A book that really does help your writing?? Are you serious??
Generally, I am not the kind of writer who reads those “1001 Ways to Write a Best-seller” or “Tips to Sell your Stories” kinds of books. I much prefer good ol’ hard work and practice. (Although if you ask anybody, I don’t do much of either. I’m too lazy.)
But when Christmas 2007 rolled around and my sister in law asked me to set up a wish-list on Amazon to make buying presents for me easier, I browsed for a while to find a couple books I thought I would enjoy or could be helpful. (And by the way, my Amazon wish-list is still available and constantly updated, so just look up Shanna Wynne–heeey, Mother’s Day will be here before you know it and I AM a Mommy..)
While looking over some of those “reverse-look-up” dictionaries, I stumbled upon this book called “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers.” It had some great reviews and the excerpt was pretty good. I figured what the heck, I’d try it. I threw it on the list and waited around.
Sure enough, I got a ton of books (Thanks Tip! I luv ya!!) and it just happened to be one of them. But being lazy, I then threw it on top of the other “help your writing” books I’d bought at Hastings (none of which I’ve really read…. just skimmed.)
A couple weeks ago I started arranging the excess overflow of books on my new bookshelf (also a shout-out to Tip for letting me have her extremely nice one) and saw it again. This time I actually opened it up and started reading.
Now, I have a pretty good grasp of most of the basics of writing, whether fiction or not. Not to say that I have them down so well that I never have problems with them in my writing, just that I understand them and most times can tell when I’ve made a mistake.
But this book, after reading only 3 chapters, has made a change in my writing.
The problem I encounter most in my writing is perspective. I switch from head to head and have a hard time defining which point of view I’m using.
I read the chapter on point of view (second or third in the book, a high priority indeed) and when working on the story I’m writing now, I was able to tell while I was writing that I’d started switching perspectives. I was overjoyed. It’s nice knowing that I see it now, that I know when I’m making that mistake.
Unfortunately I’ve been so busy with kids and writing and cleaning that I haven’t had a whole lot of time to finish reading the book (trying to squeeze it between Lovecraft, King and Clegg is a task, let me tell you) so I’m not quite sure what else you’d find if you pick this book up. I keep the book in my purse though, carrying it with me every where. Reading it a page at a time if I have to.
For my writer friends out there, have you read this particular book? Did it have any effect on your writing? Any other helpful books for writers you’d suggest?