Help Please! Money to spend on books!

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Robinne Weiss

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I have a terrible problem (hear the sarcasm there)--I have a gift certificate to spend on Amazon. My recreational reading needs are pretty well met by the local library, and I'm considering spending some of my money picking up a few select books on the craft of writing. Anyone have a suggestion for what to buy? What are your favourites? I have a few myself, but I'm always keen to hear of what other folks find useful.
 
Donald Maass -- Writing the Breakout Novel -- He has some very interesting ideas on writing and lots of beautiful passages from his clients.

Ursula K Le Guin -- Steering the Craft -- I love this book for how it's informative but still manages not to lay down laws.

Alice LaPlante -- Method and Madness -- This was one of my textbooks from creative writing. I liked it so much I bought it. I particularly enjoyed how it allowed me to replace Plotter or Pantser with Method or Madness. I can't even say how much I hate the word pantser... such an ugly word. Madness is an awesome word though.

Renni Browne / Dave King -- Self-editing for Fiction Writers -- You probably don't need this but ... I think it's a good book. You probably don't need any of these.

Flannery O'Connor -- Mystery and Manners -- I'm including this one because I like reading the essays on writing from time to time.
 
Monkeys with typewriters by Scarlett Thomas is one of the best I've read lately, and Self Editing for Fiction Writers, by Rennie Brown comes a close second. Neither are tutorials, exactly, but delve into the psychology of fiction.

They aren't quick reads. You'll get your money's worth as they can be read more than once at several levels, and each time you get something more from them. (OK, so I wrote that in second person - does that mean I'm trying a hard sell?)
 
Stephen King - On Writing.
Insightful information from a multi-multi-bestseller writer.

Sandra Newman & Howard Mittlemark - How Not To Write A Novel
(200 mistakes to avoid at all costs if you ever want to get published)
I laughed my small bits off reading this and it is very, very informative. Tells you how to avoid all the mistakes that agents will discard your MS for.

William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White - The Elements of Style
THE essential guide to correct writing. It's only small which is good because you can keep it handy all the time for reference.

Christopher Booker - The Seven Basic Plots
A big book on plots and how they work. Lots of examples and references to all types of fiction from screen epic to SciFi, fable to chick-lit.
 
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Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. This is about screenwriting but everything he recommends can be applied to novels. You may not like the advice he gives, but you will never get more specific advice on plotting than this. Seriously -- for a hundred-page screenplay, he will give you the page numbers on which specific emotional and plot points should occur. Roughly double those numbers for a novel. Of course it's mechanical, but if you're having trouble getting everything you want to come into focus, Snyder can help.
 
Ursula K Le Guin -- Steering the Craft -- I love this book for how it's informative but still manages not to lay down laws
This one! One of my favourites too.

Also, The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Cambell. It's not a writer's book but rather a study of comparative mythology (it's the one George Lucas used to template Star Wars). Story possibilities blossom on every page (despite Campell's old-fashioned analytical tools -- it was published in 1949). The Writer's Journey by Christopher Vogler is a writer's manual based directly on Campbell's book. And a million others (including the Blake Snyder's Save the Cat) use its central ideas as their source.
 
Lots of great ideas here. I'll share one of my own, too: The Psychology Workbook for Writers by Darian Smith. Darian's a therapist by profession and writes fiction on the side (or maybe it's the other way around ;) ). He uses his psychological training and experience with therapy to map out several ways of building characters using psychology as a starting point. Quite helpful stuff!
 
This one! One of my favourites too.

Also, The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Cambell. It's not a writer's book but rather a study of comparative mythology (it's the one George Lucas used to template Star Wars). Story possibilities blossom on every page (despite Campell's old-fashioned analytical tools -- it was published in 1949). The Writer's Journey by Christopher Vogler is a writer's manual based directly on Campbell's book. And a million others (including the Blake Snyder's Save the Cat) use its central ideas as their source.

I have both Campbell's and Vogler's book, mostly because I wanted them. I think of Campbell as a Jungian psychologist. I think he's a sociologist though.
 
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