My shelves are full of books on craft and I’ve mentioned many in this previous blog post. Today, I offer the best craft books I’ve read in 2011. I recommend them all.
**Special note: Reading craft books is a great way to improve your literary education, but don’t forget to put your own words on the page, too. Lots and lots of words.
SAVE THE CAT! The Last Book on Screenwriting That You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder (Wiese, Michael Productions, 2005)
Yes, this trilogy is aimed at screenwriters, but it is perfectly applicable to the novelist, too. Beginning with the all-important “log line” Snyder breaks down the crucial “beats” of a successful story and brings forth examples of popular movies to make his points. Writers are sure to benefit from Snyder’s BS2 “beat sheet.”
SAVE THE CAT! Goes to the Movies (” 2007)SAVE THE CAT! Strikes Back
SAVE THE CAT! Strikes Back (” 2010)
ANATOMY OF NONFICTION: Writing True Stories for Children by mother/daughter team Margery Facklam and Peggy Thomas (Writer’s Institute Publications, 2011)
Finally, a book specific to writing nonfiction for young readers! This comprehensive title is chock full of advice for organizing, focusing, and writing the nonfiction project. Topics include, but are not limited to: Brainstorming, Research (including many recommended sources,) Revisions, Queries, Outlines, Voice, Biographies, Science and Nature, How-to Genre, Marketing.
WRITING FOR STORY: Craft Secrets of Dramatic Nonfiction By a Two-Time Pulitzer Prize Winner. By Jon Franklin (Penguin, 1986)
This book was recommended to me by numerous nonfiction authors, so I had to have a copy for myself. This is the craft book to fully explore the nonfiction novel or short story.
Franklin pioneered the field of creative nonfiction by applying fiction’s classical complication-resolution form to standard nonfiction (specifically to news stories, most of which, he states, are generally “endings without beginnings attached”). Instead of focusing on style, grammar, and word use, as do many books on writing, Writing for Story provides a rigorous lesson in building a nonfiction story (short or long) that has structural integrity. Franklin advocates starting with an outline, writing the climax first, and engaging in other grueling tasks that seem like hard work because they are.
I found Save the Cat interesting too, Donna. And of course I have to recommend my own book, Advanced Plotting! Read excerpts on my blog, http://chriseboch.blogspot.com/
Thanks for chiming in, Chris. I enjoy your blog (note that you're part of my blog roll) and have heard great things about your own Advanced Plotting! book. I'll be sure to check it out soon.