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I enjoy reading books about writing. Sometimes they spark ideas and sometimes draw attention to places in my manuscripts where I can improve things.

I'm moving into writing mainstream Romance novels, and I felt like I needed to up my game a little because there is stiff competition in the Romance market. Do you read books about writing, or do you think they are trying to teach a craft that is mainly art and canot be taught?

Maybe analysing art makes it lose its power a little. What do you think?

I enjoyed these books.



Angelina
 

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On Writing was the most important writing book for me.  I still read it from time to time when I get into a slump or feel "down" about writing.

-jb 8)
 

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AJHamilton said:
I enjoy reading books about writing. Sometimes they spark ideas and sometimes draw attention to places in my manuscripts where I can improve things.

I'm moving into writing mainstream Romance novels, and I felt like I needed to up my game a little because there is stiff competition in the Romance market. Do you read books about writing, or do you think they are trying to teach a craft that is mainly art and canot be taught?

Maybe analysing art makes it lose its power a little. What do you think?

I enjoyed these books.
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I have loads of them and learnt a lot from a few. Just got How not to read a novel by Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark. 200 mistakes to avoid at all costs if you ever want to get published. It seems to make a lot of sense so far from what I have read.
 

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Sometimes. But I feel like I'm reading the same stuff I've read a million times already. Once in a while I'll read an article or flip through a how-to-write book and wonder why the author doesn't take their own advice. I prefer writing books that feature creative prompts.
 

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I read three or four and decided they weren't much help to me. I never remember what I read in there while I'm writing, so they do me no good. The only thing that has really helped me is writing and having the writing critiqued. Because, everyone has differentissues when they start out. Things you may think you have a handle on and don't. Reading these generalized books on writing doesn't address your specific issues. Writing and having the writing ripped apart by other writers hammers your issues home.
 

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Sure do. Among my favorite 'How to Write' books are the Elements of Fiction Writing series, How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card, and The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers. I'm currently reading The Art of Dramatic Writing and it looks to be a fine read as well. I find 'How to Write' Books very helpful in learning how to become a better writer. But I know a few aspiring authors who only read How to Write Books. I think that's a mistake. The best way to actually learn how to write novels is to first and foremost write every day. But one should also study the masters and regularly read as many novels as you can.
 

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Kevis Hendrickson said:
Sure do. Among my favorite 'How to Write' books are the Elements of Fiction Writing series, How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card, and The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers. I'm currently reading The Art of Dramatic Writing and it looks to be a fine read as well. I find 'How to Write' Books very helpful in learning how to become a better writer. But I know a few aspiring authors who only read How to Write Books. I think that's a mistake. The best way to actually learn how to write novels is to first and foremost write every day. But one should also study the masters and regularly read as many novels as you can.
I read all of the short stories and novels in my genre as soon as I come across them. It helps to read out of genre every now and then too so you don't become stale. As for those how to write people, Those who can, do, those who can't, teach.
 

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When I wrote my first novel I paid particular attention to them, as learning about basic structural things like story arcs, as well as tips on setting/character development were very useful to me.

I still enjoy reading books on writing, but now they are usually geared towards something more specific (i.e. "Word Painting", which deals with imagery, as an example).

And reading fiction/non-fiction for pleasure on a regular basis=one big ball of "reading about writing" without even knowing it   ;)
 

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Romi said:
When I wrote my first novel I paid particular attention to them, as learning about basic structural things like story arcs, as well as tips on setting/character development were very useful to me.

I still enjoy reading books on writing, but now they are usually geared towards something more specific (i.e. "Word Painting", which deals with imagery, as an example).

And reading fiction/non-fiction for pleasure on a regular basis=one big ball of "reading about writing" without even knowing it ;)
Let's just hope our dear friend V S N doesn't write a book on why women should not write before he pops his ancient clogs.
 

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greenpen said:
Let's just hope our dear friend V S N doesn't write a book on why women should not write before he pops his ancient clogs.
I don't like ruling things out completely, but I can honestly say that title wouldn't be in my collection :p
 

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I don't like to read "how to write books," but I do like to read (and write) about overall approaches to writing.

One of my favorites is Marc McCutcheon's, "D*mn, Why Didn't I Write That?"
 

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Romi said:
...And reading fiction/non-fiction for pleasure on a regular basis=one big ball of "reading about writing" without even knowing it ;)
You're exactly right. Nothing teaches writing better than reading the work of others. And not just the bestsellers, but also the works of your peers. :)

I once read a how-to-write book that was by a famous author (whom I'll never reveal here, so don't ask) who was very black and white regarding rules. I thought, for being such a so-called authority on writing, why do your books suck so bad? I guess the problem was, this writer wrote for a different audience. Something to think about when you read these books. Are you a fan of the teacher's work?
 

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Bryan R. Dennis said:
You're exactly right. Nothing teaches writing better than reading the work of others. And not just the bestsellers, but also the works of your peers. :)
Very true. I learned more from doing that. :)
 

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Yes.  I want to see other authors' processes.  Every one has a different way of doing the same thing.  Also, it's interesting when you know the author personally and have read their books, to see how they go about it.  Terry Brooks with Sometimes The Magic
Works.  I just got an email from him today on some interesting aspects of what he's doing.  Elizabeth George with her book on writing.  I've watched her write her last several books, day by day, and it's fascinating. 

The minute I stop trying to learn more about the craft, is the minute my writing will die.
 

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Bryan R. Dennis said:
You're exactly right. Nothing teaches writing better than reading the work of others. And not just the bestsellers, but also the works of your peers. :)

I once read a how-to-write book that was by a famous author (whom I'll never reveal here, so don't ask) who was very black and white regarding rules. I thought, for being such a so-called authority on writing, why do your books suck so bad? I guess the problem was, this writer wrote for a different audience. Something to think about when you read these books. Are you a fan of the teacher's work?
I read a very interesting writing tip a while back suggesting that we should copy our favourite authors work literally to get inside their heads. Not for publication, I hasten to add.
 

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greenpen said:
I read a very interesting writing tip a while back suggesting that we should copy our favourite authors work literally to get inside their heads. Not for publication, I hasten to add.
Listen, if I could speak another language fluently, I'd be a much better writer. Why? I'd translate the works of masters. My favorite author (I can't stop talking about him, sorry) Haruki Murakami has translated the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Raymond Carver, and other greats into Japanese. Has that improved his writing? I'll bet it has!
 

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I love reading how to write books.  Like someone else said, sometimes I'm in the middle of one, and it gives me ideas about what to do in my current work in progress.  I like learning about how writing works, and then recogizing it while I'm reading.  It is curious how two different books may give completely opposite advice.

A few favorites I found worth buying:

The Plot Thickens - Noah Lukeman
The First Five Pages - Noah Lukeman
Thanks, But This Isn't For Us - Jessica Page Morrell
The Nighttime Novelist - Joseph Bates
The Elements of Style - Strunk and White
Robert's Rules of Writing - Robert Masello
Writing Mysteries - Sue Grafton
Write Right! - Jan Venolia
Handbook of Short Story Writing - Writer's Digest

I just finished 'How to Write Fiction Like a Pro" by Robert Newton Peck, and it did nothing for me.  His advice may work for him, but I just can't see myself writing like he does.

 

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I read them, but only if they're written by someone who actually makes a living from writing whatever it is they're explaining how to write. I'm always amazed by books by Joe Nobody on how to write a novel. If Joe were so good at writing novels, why have I never heard of him?
 
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