In Editor's Notes #41, I talked about one of my personal goals from 2017 that I'm continuing in 2018: reading one non-fiction book on writing and editing at all times, regardless of whatever else I'm reading for work or pleasure. I listed a few of my favorites and then asked about yours. I also read through a handful of threads in my editing groups to see what they recommended. There are so many wonderful books out there that it's hard to know which ones to prioritize, but I'll make an attempt here to list the ones that seem to get mentioned over and over again, and you can let me know if you've read any of them, or if you'd recommend something completely different.
Here are four great books to start with, as recommended by others in the field. As I began to work on this post, I realized there were TOO many good books to cram into one place, so I'm going to add a third post to this series and will share more with you next time. Too many recommendations at once will all start to blur into one another, I think, and then you may not look into any of them due to being overwhelmed.
The Best Punctuation Book, Period by June Casagrande—In my last post, I told you about how much I liked Casagrande's style. One of the editor admins of a group I'm in said she bought this because "the author was so nice" to her on Twitter. It pays to be kind, people. But I digress. The book covers punctuation for all sorts of styles, from Chicago Manual of Style to Associate Press, MLA (Modern Language Association) and APA (American Psychological Association). Having the conventions of book publishing, science and other academic journals, news media and more presented side by side makes this almost a one-stop shop.
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott—I've seen this recommended multiple times by writers and editors alike. As if she read my mind, author Kim Watt posted a video review of it recently, calling it "encouraging" and filled with "lovely humor." She even reads an excerpt from it about supportive people at "Zen and the Art of Making Mistakes"
The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman—I believe S.K. Anthony (Writers After Dark and her own book site) recommended this one to me years ago. This is only one book in Ackerman's series, and it's full of page after page of helpful ways to show emotion in your writing. I do own this one, but since it's not a book that one reads from front to back, I didn't list it in the last post. I follow this author on Instagram, and she is all about helping writers to be their best . . . even the name of her IG account is writers_helping_writers_angela. Her website, One Stop for Writers, has a nice selection of helpful checklists, idea generators, templates, and more. The other books in the Thesaurus series include Emotional Wound, Positive Trait, Urban Setting, Rural Setting, and Negative Trait.
The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing by Evan Marshall—Author Jack Tyler (Beyond the Rails) mentioned this in the comments of my previous post, so I
"Enter Evan Marshall, a New York superagent, and his Marshall Plan for Novel Writing. In this book, he details the concepts that everyone else seems to assume you know, items like how many viewpoint characters you need, who these characters are, their roles, how many scenes to give each one, when to drop twists and surprises, all those things that are vital if you're going to construct a compelling story.
"The Marshall Plan isn't for everyone. I have tried and failed to write without a plan. I needed to know how that plan should be constructed, and The Marshall Plan delivers the goods thoroughly and understandably. I bought that book new in 1998, and became an effective writer shortly thereafter. I've always been able to construct the pieces, but thanks to Mr. Marshall's insights, I now know how to use them to build the finished product."
There you have it. A handful of books to look into until next time. If you own or have read any of these, I'd love to hear your thoughts on whether they've been helpful to your writing journey or not. If you have something you like better, let's hear about it! I have at least six more books others have been telling me about, and I'll be posting the ones that have been recommended the most often.
Until next time, happy reading and happy researching!