In my other blog, I posted my first ever published book. Looking back at it now, I still love the story but I do wish I could have written it better. You see, I wrote that book without any input from critique partners / beta readers and I certainly didn't even do research about the dos and don'ts for the technical aspects of writing a novel - with the exception of researching a teensy weensy bit about the finer points of grammar. So end result: not my best work. It's a fun and frothy read, I can promise you that - but the writing could have been better. I admit it. :)
Of course as years went by and I realized that writing is something I would really like to do - maybe even earn money from - I gradually found my way to reading "how-to" books on writing. Now, some of you may say, "But I already know how to write. So why should I read those books?" Well, yes, I get your point, but you see - there's a special kind of writing involved when you want to write your own book / novel and that's the kind of writing you'll learn from these how-to guides. Plus, you get tons of advice from the best in the industry, thus allowing you to avoid the same mistakes they did.
And so without further ado, here are links to some of the books that have helped me improve in my craft.
- Escape the Slush Pile by Mary Janice Davidson - MJD is my idol. I love her Undead books and when I was still in school, I spent my entire allowance snapping up her books. This particular book is more for getting published, but it's still worth reading and can still help you improve your writing. At the very least, it will help you take rejections (whether it's from a publisher who turned down your manuscript proposal or a one-star review) more easily.
- On Writing - It's Stephen King. 'Nuff said. I know that he's a very outspoken character and because of that he's picked a lot of enemies along the way. I know he may not even like the books I write because he may consider them fluff. Doesn't matter - it's not just because he's a legend. I think it's more because he's getting, err, older and therefore set on his ways and you just have to think of him as this grumpy old king whom you need to win over - if not with your writing then with your personality. Because either way, he's a good man. Hell, he's a great man - he has to be with the kind of stories he dishes out. :) Now, as you can only expect from King - his advice is spot on, often ruthless, but hey - sometimes, such advice is the kind of wake-up call we need to accept that our writing needs improvement.
- Writing Great Books for Young Adults - A funny story here. I actually queried Ms. Brooks before I got to read this book. Long story short: she rejected my query. I'm wondering now - if I had queried her after reading this book of hers, would my query have a different outcome? hahaha. But anyway, this book is a must read if you want to write for a YA audience. Now remember - the audience being targeted here is readers of traditionally pubbed YA books. If you are writing primarily for Amazon YA readers, the rules are a lot more liberated especially when it comes to dealing with sex, drugs, and all other sensitive issues. I need to point that out because if you're the type who'd like to push boundaries, you can do so when you're independently or self published. So some of the rules you come across in this book don't have to apply.
- Writing and Selling the YA Novel - The one thing I really love about this book would be the EXERCISES given every chapter. With every exercise you complete, it's like taking one step closer to getting published or even just completing a book you will be proud of. :) The book is structured after a typical class schedule. Like Homeroom is supposed to be for you to get motivated, etc. I think you can check out its TOC on Amazon so you'll know what I mean.
- How to Write a Romance and Get It Published - I wish there was an ebook edition for this since my copy's quite worn. =/ But anyway - this is a classic! You will not go wrong with this book! :) Of course, I have to say that since it's a classic, some of the rules may not apply - particularly, I think, when it comes to how you write your sex scenes. As you may have noticed nowadays - thanks to 50 shades - authors are allowed (even encouraged) to be more graphic. I'm not saying you should write your steamy scenes that way, but if that's how you like it, then good for you - what was frowned upon before (like how we can't ever write p*ssy to refer to the female reproductive organ, haha) is considered the norm now. :)
- Elements of Style - Will you believe that the first edition of this was written at the turn of the century? And that its lessons still do apply? I forgot which author / website / article pointed me to this book's direction but whoever it was - my eternal gratitude to him or her! This book is a gem! It will straighten you out when it comes to the finer details of grammar. I especially recommend this book to non-native English speakers like me. :)
- Writing Irresistible Kidlit - I had the fortune to have sample pages requested by Ms. Kole on different manuscripts. She was always pleasant to converse with but more importantly you get the feel that she knows her stuff. And yeah she does. So you can't ever go wrong with this one and esp. if you want to write for a traditional pub audience.
- How to Write a Damn Good Novel - Borrowed from the library. :)
- On Writing Romance - It's Leigh Michaels. 'Nuff said.
- How to Write Hot Sex - Check out the names of its contributors. Then you'll know why it's a must read.
- The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Erotic Romance - Alison Kent wrote this. Again, 'Nuff said.