On Writing


I’ve been a frequent attendee of Mary Buckham’s online courses.  I can’t recommend them highly enough. And now many of her courses are available as books, with topics ranging from “hooks” to “active settings.”

breakintofictionThis book which deals with plotting won’t write the story for you, but it will help take some of the frustration out of the process, particularly if you’re a “pantser.”  I found the templates and examples very helpful – even had a few “aha, now I get it moments.”  My weakest point is structure, and I found several techniques here to remedy issues with my WIP.

The examples are based on movies – Casablanca, Pretty Woman, Bourne Identity and Finding Nemo – rather than novels, but, having seen all four, I had no problem relating the book’s advice to my own writing.

I stumbled upon this book when it was recommended to me by a writer friend. It’s clearly written , fun to read,  the advice is to the point.

The author — Chris Roerden — is a book editor, so she knows where of she speaks, and she gives insider information. The best part is the book is not a re-hash of the many writing books available.

Don’t Murder your Mystery is not a “how to write” book, but a “how to fix your draft” book, and how to keep it out of the slush pile.

I was fortunate enough to participate in the 2010 Seascape Workshop, taught by Hallie Ephron, Roberta Islieb, and S.W. Hubbard,.    After working with these three talented mystery writers, I really wanted to read Hallie’s “how to” book.

Writing and Selling your Mystery Novel is a clear road map to planning your book, with lots of clear examples, charts, and plenty of helpful exercises.  The book is divided into four sections: Planning, Writing, Revising, and Selling Your Mystery Novel.

First off, let me say that I haven’t read Maas’ WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL, so I have nothing to compare THE FIRE IN FICTION against.  That said, this book inspired me to revise, revise, revise my manuscript.

Throughout the book, Maas sprinkles exercises such as: “Is your protagonist an ordinary person? Find in him any kind of strength. Work out a way for that strength to be demonstrated within your protagonist’s first five pages. Is your protagonist a hero–that is, someone who is already strong? Find in him something conflicted, fallible, humbling, or human. Work out a way for that flaw to be demonstrated within your protagonist’s first five pages. Revise your character’s introduction to your readers. Be sure to soften the flaw with self-awareness or self-deprecating humor.”

Every chapter in the book had me thinking of ways to improve my own writing.  Maas provides not only exercises, but examples from genre fiction to illustrate his points

I’ve read plenty of books on writing, but few motivated me as quickly and as thoroughly as this one.