Word of Mouth on Writers’ Resources

okay so today we’re gonna do something a little different not a book review of a single novel but instead a writer’s resource guide review there’s a lot of written stuff out there published stuff on how to be a writer how to live your life as a writer how to structure your novel how to write memoir etc I think it’s really important to start with the question do you need this stuff no you do not need it you don’t have to write like Shakespeare to have a fantastic publishable worthy of reading book and I want to start with that yes I got a degree in creative writing I didn’t do my MFA I really do respect the MFA programs and respect writers who do them and I have a lot of respect for the variety of books that I that I’ve been through throughout my life to sort of learn the the craft of writing the way I have and I’m gonna show you what I’ve got and what I like about it and what I think where I think it falls short but the first question do you need any of this stuff know if you can tell a story if you have something to say when you’re in the bar and talking to people when you’re writing an email and somebody comes back to you and says could you write the funniest stuff or you write your stuff is so clever or you notice that when you’re at a party people seem to be drawn to you because of what you’re saying you’re already a writer so put it down on paper and who cares where the comma placements are supposed to be and whether you’ve got the apostrophe right in its verses it’s you know what that stuff there are editors that can help you with that stuff and I would encourage you to go for it if you’re so inclined and be so inclined writing is fun writing is great all right so I’m gonna show you quickly and by the way I’ll put either a caption or something down with a list of all of these because I’m gonna do it kind of quick I know a lot of stuff story Bob McKee Robert McKee story excellent book which is basically the text for his course that he does I’ve taken it in London it’s a weekend long it’s intense it’s like 36 straight hours of studying screenplay his subtitle is correct its substance structure style and the principles of screenwriting everything you ever wanted to know and more that you didn’t even know you wanted to know you can get from Bob McKee guy is a guru and I highly recommend it he’s a cranky guy too but I will say it’s his birthday tomorrow I think so happy birthday Bob McKee I start with you because you deserve it and then I’m going to Saul Stein and his book is clearly printed with a UV coating because it’s picking up glare like you wouldn’t believe Saul in my writers group back from England we used to just call him Saul and we would refer to him regularly because this is an excellent book when it comes to pacing structure where you want to maybe end a chapter so that you’ve got your reader hooked really practical strategic stuff about writing and a bit about the writers life as well but I would say Saul Stein on writing I would put in my to go box of absolute top choice picks for practical stuff I don’t know who published this one st. Martin’s did okay anyway it is excellent he also came out with a second fellow on how to grow a novel I would tell you now Stein on writing will cover all of your bases how grow novels good too but Anne Lamott bird by bird matte laminates still picking up a glare but anyway there’s bird by bird she is fantastic she’s a memoir writer she’s a fiction writer and she is a writers guide book writer in bird by bird this one the story was that I’m making this up I don’t totally remember it but I think her brother had a homework project do more than his homework it was like a huge long semester long project he was supposed to write about every single bird ever known to man and he hadn’t done any of the work and it was due like a week later and he was weeping at the table feeling very sorry for himself and their dad said all right buddy you got to get cracking on it and start the work and you’re just gonna make your way through it bird by bird great advice and it’s how you tackle any project that feels overwhelming from the beginning so Anne Lamott really gets that and really delivers in bird by bird highly recommend it making a literary life you’ve probably been able to figure out that I don’t really understand my webcam and all I can hope is that the thumbnail option I have for when I load this to YouTube will give me a choice to make this be my thumbnail picture because making a literary life by Carolyn C is perhaps the most important book in my stack because Carolyn C is one of the most important writers I’ve ever met she was my professor at UCLA she is absolutely a guru she shares all of her personal stuff and that is so valuable in class she did in her fiction she does in her writers guide she does this book came out prior to just prior to print-on-demand technology and ebooks so some of the stuff you’ll read in it expresses the frustrations of a writer who is still mired in the constraints of traditional publishing we don’t have those constraints anymore and luckily I have spoken with Carolyn about some of that more recently she is a wonderful person and this is a fantastic book about living your life as a writer and how to how to handle it Carolyn C check out her fiction – it will not disappoint Nathalie Goldberg writing down the bones so this one I’m gonna make this show writing down the bones this is actually the first book I ever bought I was 25 years old I had just moved to London to get married and must have read a review somewhere somebody told me that I should check out writing down the bones because I could use it to finish the first novel I was working on I used to carry this around on the tube and feel like either I already was a real writer or I would perhaps never be a real writer but this book started it all for me and I would recommend Natalie Goldberg for that okay Stephen King he has to be in the list the guy is a master storyteller Stephen King on writing he is probably quoted to me more than any other writer I think people feel that he’s accessible they read his work they’ve seen him interviewed he’s an incredible person as well as writer and I think a lot of people who are dabbling with the idea of becoming writers feel that he is their entree to the whole world of writing and I would say they’re right Stephen King on writing is it’s a good one and it’ll be at your library for sure you can go check it out if you don’t want to buy one Eudora Welty one writers beginnings okay this is just a plug for me I’m putting this in here because I won the creative writing award when I was 18 and our school used to do like you know honor every kid for every single thing you could possibly find about them and there was this big speech day sort of award ceremony at the end of the year and I didn’t have the highest SATs and I didn’t win the Latin award and my history teacher didn’t even like me but I won creative writing and so there it is the creative writing award given to Nancy friend anyway Sunset Hills school may 1984 and I’m proud of that still I think it’s probably because they noticed it that I was into writing at the time that I’ve continued doing it so notice what your kids are doing and seem to be enjoying compliment them give them prices for those things and it may pay off not that I’m making any money but you know okay this book I wanted you to see mentor this came out just a couple of years ago mentor a memoir by Tom Grimes now I’ve done the Iowa summer Writers Festival a couple of times which I would really recommend if you can get yourself to Iowa for a weekend or a week some summer fantastic Tom Grimes was living in I want to say Key West already had his life kind of together when he wanted to do his MFA at Iowa and this is his story of both getting into the program and getting through the program sometimes just learning about how a writer becomes a writer is invaluable and Tom Grimes is he does a great job of this in mentor so I recommend that one Joseph Campbell you’re gonna hear this name plenty of times because Joseph Campbell the hero with a thousand faces is a guide to the amount to that template that I was talking about you don’t have to write with the template but if you want to do something about the hero’s journey then Joseph Campbell is your man and the hero with a thousand faces is a great place to start to understand the hero’s journey google that and start there here’s another it’s a little book it’s Dinty Moore s book called toothpick men short stories by den team or I threw this in because I wanted you to know who he is he is an excellent teacher of memoir and I would recommend that you take a look at Den team or dent iw more for whatever guidance you might think you need if you’re writing memoir I write fiction not memoir for the most part but I wanted to be sure Dinty Moore was mentioned Milan Kundera art of the novel I’m not gonna say anything about this except for he’s the man okay this is fun this one Richard litterer crazy English when I was an English teacher in high school I had a budget for textbooks and for things to round out my curriculum and this was one of the books they approved for me to read the ultimate joyride through our language if you’re into words beyond writing but just in a words they’re the etymology cool book and it’s worth taking a look if you’re just having fun with language then go for it personal fiction writing by Meredith Meredith sue Willis this is again more memoir oriented and it could be helpful to you if you’re wanting to do memoir here’s another sort of exercise book it’s called what if what’s the subtitle writing exercises for fiction writers if you have writer’s block I don’t believe in writer’s block I think you can always as you can tell spiel on about something and put your words down on the page but there are times when really you feel a bit stumped and overwhelmed and if you just ask yourself for some writing prompts and some important questions like well what if this happened how could you write that then it may get you unblocked I think a lot of writers have more a problem of getting back on the right track then getting unblocked probably because we have computer technology and we can write till we want until all night long and then delete whereas in the past you had to write what only mattered with your typewriter times are different so maybe you don’t have writer’s block but what ifs a good book and here’s another fun one writer’s on writing wo w Wow I think sometimes just getting to know writers through their little quotes and quips and stories is also very useful and this is a good one for that how fiction works James Wood now here is a real one that will tell you a few important things about structure and story and how a book really ought to flow to meet reader expectation now when I said you don’t need to write in three act structure you sure don’t but there is a certain type of reader expectation and if you want to know how to meet it and what that is then you might as well study it to some extent and how fiction works by James Wood is not a big book you can see how big it is but you’ll have a great overview right there okay here’s the the original hard core textbook everybody at Iowa always knows this one John Gardner the art of fiction I wouldn’t say start there but if you’re gonna buy a half a dozen books sure buy that one you should read it okay Writer’s Digest books has put out a bunch of stuff story structure architect this is another one where you feel if you get the the architecture the important you know I don’t know how to talk about architecture pylons and grids and whatever that hold a building together then you ought to be able to finish up with the pretty wallpapers and the silk pillows that you put on your sofa bad metaphor I haven’t figured out the webcam to start and stop this thing so we’re just going for it I’m 13 minutes in and I’m not even halfway through my stack ok so maybe what I should do is just show you a few more Wallace Stegner the man is a genius and he happens to have put some of his teaching and writing on teaching and writing fiction quips and stories into a small book and I think you want to read it here’s another screenwriting book if you have a villain who you would like to make more human and relatable on some level in your book all you have to do is make him save a cat save the cat very helpful book with screenwriting and character development ok let’s say you’re not gonna get your English major your English degree and let’s say you’re not gonna do an MFA totally don’t be bothered doing all that stuff but if you don’t want to get like shown up at a cocktail party or some crazy person interviews you and tries to make you look like an idiot this is your refresher course a glossary of literary terms by M H Abrams I point this out because you you can’t go wrong if you have this in your suitcase when you go off to your interview and also I mention it for Tom Kennedy who wrote a fantastic piece in The New Yorker I think it was this week about not being able to find his copy of a glossary of literary terms and he was searching for a royal blue spine and I just want to show you Tom I don’t think you were wrong because mine does have a probably spike okay I’ve got a couple like did what now my computer’s going crazy Dictionary of cultural literacy again useful not necessary the seven basic plots this is taught by a fantastic lady named Susan Taylor Chi hack at Iowa Iowa summer Writers Festival and if you’re not sure about Bob McKee and story if you’re not sure really if there is a template to what we expect in fiction this book this little door stopper of a book will tell you all about it if you don’t want a door stopper but you want to know about 36 dramatic situations this book was recommended to me because by one of my proof readers actually because she said that the writers of Shrek relied on this book it is old school it’s like printed as if it’s straight from a Xerox machine and it’s the real deal on where screenwriting and where story comes from probably more than thirty six dramatic situations known today but I wanted you to know about that one I’ve got a couple more things here from on writing sex scenes joy of writing sex by elizabeth benedict that’s a pretty good one this is something that a lot of people are intimidated by I mean and of course we are that’s a private moment and I’m trying to like back up so you can see it anyway I’ve said the title um so yeah that’s tough to write about and if you can take some good advice from somebody take it and shot of tequila helps to writing erotica okay now we’re going all-out I put this in here because it’s self counsel Press who I used to work with and you know take the lessons where you can get them that one’s a good one oh here’s one okay am Forester this book aspects of the novel the last time which is years ago I had someone who I would call my agent he wasn’t really my agent hi Mitchell waters this is what he told me that he would recommend that I do before he could sell my second and I raised out in bawdy EM Forster aspects of the novel because of course I loved the EM Forster it’s a good book and a Genting and publishing is different today from what it was 10 years ago and I don’t know if I needed this or not he didn’t think I really needed it but anyway that’s another story I have to mention Steven Pressfield I came to know him in his work through Bob McKee because he used to interview him regularly this man writes war beautifully and excessively and for all markets he is not only writing for guys he’s like Tim O’Brien in that sense in that you really find his stuff accessible but this one is not the not about war itself but about being a writer or being an artist and it’s a teeny little book with short pages if I can show you here’s a short page that will just keep you going sometimes Steven Pressfield absolutely invaluable book to have in the bookshelf okay I’ve got any more that I really have to show you I don’t know I think I’m gonna just put the list of the others in the captions oh you know what I’m gonna tell you one other over here because I think it’s worth maybe just briefly talking about how to write damned good fiction by Stephen Fry fre ey um if you know the story about this guy he got busted for writing something that he wrote as fiction million little pieces he wrote in his fiction he then decided it wasn’t selling his fiction but I bet it will sell his memoir it opens with this horrendous scene of him waking up sobering up on a plane airplane he doesn’t even know where he’s going is missing some teeth he’s been very badly damaged he’s already been in and out of jail etc there’s a lot of stuff that there’s a big hook in the beginning and then he got busted on The Oprah Show because it turned out the thing was memoir it was fiction and yet he sold it as memoir and stood behind this story that it was memoir well it was sort of memoir fiction but he sure got my attention because if you can write fiction so beautifully that people think it’s the best memoir ever then you’ve got something and I would say he’s worth pursuing and now my phone’s ringing so you’re in luck 20 minutes I’m gonna close up shop here and hope you enjoyed it thanks for watching thanks for reading and thanks for writing

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