Anyhow, the Twitter chat made me realize that I don't think I've ever collected all the titles in one place, though I know I've discussed them before. So, here's the contents of my "sage writing advice" shelf.
In photo order:
- Zen in the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury
To be honest, not my favorite of the bunch, but it comes praised by many. Perhaps you'll get more out of it than I did?
- The Elements of Style, Strunk and White
Because I can never remember how to do quotes. Also, because I am trying to become one with the philosophy of cutting surplus words, if not in this blog, then at least in my writing.
- The Moon & I, Betsy Byars
Hilarious, unless you are snake-averse. Then probably seriously creepy. Writing advice disguised as autobiographical stories.
- Self Editing for Fiction Writers, Browne & King
The book so nice I braved the vultures circling Borders books to get my own copy. Makes a good argument for putting the extra effort into revisions of your own work, and gives real-life examples. My post-NaNo Sherpa. I reviewed this one earlier, though you may also want to check out Bell's The Artful Edit and Lyon's Manuscript Makeover. I preferred the Browne & King book.
- No Plot? No Problem!, Chris Baty
The pre-NaNo Sherpa. I picked this up after my first year of NaNo. Certainly not the most serious book, but then NaNo isn't the most serious creative endeavor, either. Baty's novel aftercare advice about summarizing scenes on index cards inspired my current pre-noveling process.
- Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Lynne Truss
If your blood pressure ticks up a notch every time you see an abused apostrophe, read this. Funny for Type "A" personalities like yours truly. Obnoxious to everyone else, probably. Read immediately after (or in parallel with) Strunk & White.
- Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg
Slightly hippy-trippy compared to the others in the stack, but her mantra -- keep your hand moving, always moving across the page -- is invaluable advice.
- Steering the Craft, Ursula K. Le Guin
Meant more as a workbook than a read-from-cover-to-cover work. Le Guin does get into discussions of taking criticism in a peer writing group, which is the only book I've found that does this. Type "A" people need all the advice we can get about accepting criticism gracefully and silently.
- On Writing, Stephen King
Also largely autobiographical, and King has led a colorful (and medicated) life. Solid advice, though, from someone who knows how to make popular, readable work. Also: a sample of before-and-after edited work.
- Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott
Still among the very best in the pile, in my opinion, especially for writing-and-life advice. So many books that I've read were very dry, highbrow, academic books written by Serious Authors Crafting Serious Art. This is not those books, thank goodness. This is the one that gets me back in the NaNo frame of mind every year. After reading it, I'm excited about writing something terrible and bloated and meandering and occasionally surprising and subtle and wonderful.