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what helpful books

edited September 2005 in - Writing Tales


  • I just went through the Bookshelf section here and wondered - do you have any favourite books on writing? Anything you had found helpful and would recommend? There are so many on the market that I guess recommendation helps best.
  • I've recently purchased 4 different books!  (Always good to get a broad perspective!) The first one I can highly recommend is called 'Cracking the Short Story Market' by Iain Pattison.  It's marvellous.  It's so readable, I've been reading it like you would a novel! Quote:  In clear language, entertaining examples and wry humour, he steers you towards the delights of writing fiction that fizzes.. It cost £9.99 and has a thumping 370 pages. You don't say what kind of writing you are interested in, but I would say, novel or short story, Iain Pattison's book would be helpful to both.  Iain Pattison is a competition judge and creative writing tutor and his short stories have been broadcast on Radio 4 and also appeared in a number of top literary publications and women's magazines. ISBN: 1903119006

    I have just picked up 'Writing Great Short Stories' by Margaret Lucke.  (It's a Schaum's Quick Guide). Already, some of the suggestions gave me a 'prompt' and I was able to resolve a difficulty I was having with a short story.  This book has 160 pages, and like Pattison's book, contains some superb advice and also some exercises to jump start your writing.  ISBN No. 007039077. It hasn't got the price on the back of the book - will have to check it out.  I bought both books at Amazon. The took ages to come (about 2 months)but they were well worth the wait. Perhaps they got more than 1 copy in stock after I ordered in!  Good luck!
  • Hello,

    I've read countless writing books, thanks to my film production degree and my own interest, and the only ones I've found of any real use for writing fiction are:
    Story by Robert McKee: it's aimed at screenwriters, but his ideas for breaking down and constructing a narrative are great starting points.
    The Complete Book of Scriptwriting by J. Michael Straczynski: this is aimed at anyone who writes scripts of any kind (covers plays, TV, films and radio), but the advice on conducting yourself in a professional manner can't be beaten.
    Oxford English Dictionary: Hemmingway said if you want to be a writer you should read a dictionary - twice.
    Roget's Thesaurus: means I'm never stuck for words.

    - Richard
  • I forgot one more: The Writers and Artists Yearbook. Loads of advice on the creative and business sides of writing, and market information.

    - Richard
  • I also recommend Iain Pattison's book, I got it free when I enrolled on my writers course a while back. I also received a couple of good books free when I took out my subscription to WM and WN recently - they're from a range called "Write Great Fiction", they're called "Description and Setting" (by Ron Rozelle) & "Plot and Structure" (by James Scott Bell). I think you can by more titles from the range on Amazon.
  • I have acquired quite a few on loan from the library, two on screenwriting.Trottier's Screenwriting Bible, Screenwriting for Dummies by Laura Schellhardt. Also Develop Characters for Scriptwriting by Rib Davis, Writing for Children by Rib Clark.  I have also bought some regarding police procedure and how dead bodies are analysed by the pathologist, the list is endless but if anyone is interested, get in touch I I will give you the list, Ciao, Woll52
  • One I would recommend is 'From Pitch to Publication' by Carole Blake
  • I'd like to add my name to the list of Iain Pattison fans. I found 'Cracking The Short Story Market' to be extremely helpful. However, I have to admit that I haven't yet cracked the short story market, but I'm sure that's not Mr Pattison's fault.
  • Ha! Ha! Know what you mean, Sylvia! However, I think Mr Pattisons book is excellent for dipping in and out of and it sort of gives you a boost. No one ever made a fortune overnight but at least with encouraging books like his we know there's a good chance we'll get there in the end!
  • Hi.  I have found R. McKee's Story helpful, though the disadvantage has been that I have not seen the films he talks about.  I wonder if any of you have had short story workshops, and if so, who has been the most informative, and got you rushing home to write?
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