I’ve been working hard on the revision of The Next Novel, combing out tangles—only to have new tangles emerge. There’s something at the heart of this novel that eludes me, and the more I stare at it, the more mysterious it seems.
When I get to this desperate stage, I gobble up books on writing. I must have almost one hundred now, for when I hit this wall only a new book on writing will do.
My bibles now:
The Breakout Novelist by Donald Maass.
I actually think this might well be the only book I’ll ever need, it’s so good. Maass, a NY agent, is extremely articulate on what makes a novel work. I usually ignore the writing exercises in books on writing, but these I like (and am using).
But of course, I had to get just one more book on writing, and it proved to be essential as well:
Do the Work, by Steven Pressfield (cover at the head of this post), is very short but powerful: a one-two punch on the creative process, a tremendously bracing Hang In There diatribe—just what I needed.
Someday I intend to put my short-list of fantastic books on writing on a spearate page on this blog.
But for now, I’d like to know which books you recommend.
(Other than From Where We Dream by Robert Olen Butler, which we all know is great.)
Thank you for this. It’s great to see established writers honest about their struggles:)
I turn to Jack Hodgin’s Passion for Narrative.
Cathleen, thank you. Many people have recommended Hodgin’s book: it’s going on my wish list now!
I like James Wood: “How Fiction Works.” That’s now my top of the list.
Lilian, I have that book in Mexico. I found the first few chapters wonderful, but then Wood got so philosophical (for me) I put it aside. I should have persevered. Next winter!
HI Sandra, When Border’s closed, I picked up a book that was discounted called From First Draft to Finished Novel written by Karen S. Wiesner.
I’ve not heard of the Wieser book, Janet. I find that most any book has something of value to offer. Let us know what you think.
Writing down the bones by Natalie Goldberg. I go to this one whenever I’m stuck.
I love Goldberg, and that’s one of her best, I think. It’s on my list of favs, for sure!