Sunday, 1 June 2014

May Book Recommendations

Please note that this post contains affiliate links which does not alter the cost of the books, but simply means that I will earn a small commission should you decide to buy the books through these links.

(Kindle ebook only) The Story Within Plotting Guide for Novelists by Alicia Rasley

This wonderful little ebook made me think about how I had set up my story (the one that's at the start of the second draft stage). Had I just grafted exciting elements onto the story instead of looking for the exciting elements that already existed within the story? Because, for one thing, the way I had the story set up was going to make it much harder to establish genre, something writers need to do within the first fifty pages.

"Instead of looking for excitement, novelty, innovation on the outside, find it inside the story."

Rasley's approach is particularly suited to pantsers or writers who tend more towards pantsing than plotting - "I'm not going to give you schemas of external structure or plot grids or even hard and fast rules for developing a story". Instead, she promises that writers will learn about structure organically.

A superb writer's guide that I highly recommend, especially if you're more of a pantser than a plotter.

Drawing on the Power of Resonance in Writing by David Farland

If you love writing, if you love words, if you love learning more about how other writers (particularlyTolkien) wrote and why they did it the way they did, then this book is going to please you. I read it in one go, I just couldn't put it down. It's not a long book, but it's a joy to read.

"So dig deep into your own personal experiences, but also learn to tap into cultural phenomenon - into myths, religion, global politics, major motion pictures and books, and even internet memes in order to establish resonance. Draw from the whole of your life, and from the rest of the world."

(David Farland, by the way, was Stephanie Meyer's and Brandon Sanderson's teacher!)

The Edge of the Water by Elizabeth George

I loved this book. George writes internal character arcs and relationship conflicts like no one else I know. I loved the characters, the pacing, the dialogues.

This book in the series features a mystery, some teenage sleuths and a story with a paranormal twist.

I always enjoy Elizabeth George's novels, both this YA series and her Inspector Lynley books. This book  is a keeper.

Million Dollar Outlines by David Farland

For someone who doesn't consider herself a plotter, this would appear to be strange reading material, but if Stephanie Meyer and Brandon Sanderson were taught by David Farland, then I want to be taught by him, too!

I haven't yet finished this book but I've learned so much in just the first two or three chapters. For instance, in the section on Finding Themes in Your Tale: "Every story is an argument." (WOAH. Seems obvious to me now, but I'd never considered genre fiction from that angle before.)

And this: "...a far more interesting villain is one who is faced with moral choices, who struggles with them, and does not always do what is evil. He sometimes shows mercy. He sometimes is benevolent. But in the end, when faced with his biggest challenge of all, he falls. In other words, your story should not start with a villain, but should grow a villain."

And his take on the purpose and power of stories and the "principles to writing a formed story" resonated deeply with me.

So, briefly, I've read a number of things in the first few chapters that I've not encountered anywhere else, to my recollection, or, if I did, it's only now that these ideas are sinking in and taking hold. (Because sometimes you need to hear something more than once for it to make sense.)

Definitely a keeper on my bookshelf and a book I'll dip into before every session to get me in writing mode.

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