Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Reading for Creative Writers

Reading has always been inextricably tied to writing for me.  I know I'm not the only one out there who feels this way, because I've spoken to plenty of library-going book-lovers who are also writers of some kind.  As we read, we feed off of the creativity an author has put into their work and use it as fuel for our own writing.  We are inspired by character development and complex plot lines, by delicate prose and intense description.  We are readers who love to write, and even if we are not reading explicitly to improve our writing, we read like writers - hungrily, and with an open mind to the possibilities contained in a good book.

Even though I have loved writing since I learned how to do it, I scarcely consider myself a fledgling author.  I have only ever taken one creative writing class, and that was back in college.  To be honest, I have been resistant to begin writing for fun again, and even more resistant to self-educating about it.  I had adopted the attitude that if I were a good writer, I would naturally produce good work with practice; there wasn't much I could learn to help me improve, and the way my writing started out would be the way it would always be.  But I've had to change my mind about that.  I've discovered that, like anything, there are definite steps I can take and methods I can use to better my writing. 

There are so many great works to learn from by example, and fantastic books of instruction we can turn to as well.  The library has a nice variety of the latter, several of which I'm eager to share with you.

Let's begin where the joy of writing first takes root.  Most of us with a penchant for writing have loved it since we knew how to form wobbly letters with tiny hands.  Do you remember the feeling?  For little ones, there are not many books about the exhilaration of writing a story, which is why I adore this twist on Little Red Riding Hood for 5 to 8 year olds.  It is full of super cute illustrative details, and because the story instructs in such a fun-filled way, it hardly feels like it is packed with tips for great story making.

(As a truly exciting side note, I'd like to mention that we've partnered with PBS to bring you a kid's writing contest for children in K through Third grades.  The deadline for entry to the contest is March 31st, so if you know any inspired kiddos, don't wait to get them started!  You can find entries at any of our branches, and we have planned some workshops to help participants along.  Check these and others out and register here.)

For older children (about 8 years and up), there are two books by a favorite childhood author of mine - Gail Carson Levine.  Her most recent on the subject of writing came out in December: Writer to Writer: From Think to Ink.  I know it's a children's book, but I can't wait to read it.  Before Writer to Writer, she wrote Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly.  Appropriately, many titles for teens and "tweens" deal  - in a fun and engaging way, of course - with the building blocks of good writing.  Here are a few: 

Grammar Girl by Mignon Fogarty

So, You Want to Be a Writer?: How to Write, Get Published, and Maybe Even Make it Big! by Vicki Hambleton and Cathleen Greenwood

My Weird Writing Tips by Dan Gutman

If you search in our catalog for books about writing, you will find everything under the sun, from grant writing to writers' thoughts on writing, from "the best of," to literacy issues. Here are some that stand out specifically for creative writers:

For the Young at Heart

Writing Books for Kids and Teens by Marion Crook

Writing New Adult Fiction by Deborah Halverson
Check out our recent post New & Novel: Romantic Fiction for New Adults, specifically about NA, a category dedicated to people ages 18-26.

Let That Crazy Child Write by Clive Matson

Specific Types of Creative Writing

On Writing Romance: How to Craft a Novel That Sells by Leigh Michaels.

The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction: The Complete Guide to Finding Your Story, Honing Your Skills, & Glorifying God in Your Novel by Jeff Gerke

Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy by the editors of Analog and Isaac Asimov's science fiction magazine

General Writing Guides

Wired for Story: The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence by Lisa Cron

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
This one I have never forgotten from my creative writing class in college.

Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them by Francine Prose

Fast Fiction:  A Guide to Outlining and Writing a First-Draft Novel in Thirty Days by Denise Jaden
Have you heard of NaNoWriMo?  This book would be a great place to start preparing.

The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron
I know a published author who loves this book and has adopted some daily practices from it that help keep her writing juices flowing.

The Making of a Story: A Norton Guide to Creative Writing by Alice LaPlante

Writing With Emotion, Tension and Conflict by Cheryl St John 

If you also consider yourself a writer, what do you like to write?  Have you read any great books that have helped you on your way?  Please comment!  

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