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Topic: How many writing books are on your bookshelf?

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Subject: How many writing books are on your bookshelf?
Date Posted: 6/21/2008 7:10 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2008
Posts: 428
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I mean your actual bookshelf and not the one on here. In other words, which writing books do you consider to be keepers? As for myself, I have 3.

  • Damn! Why Didn't I Write That?
  • How to Write Tales of Horror, Fantasy & Science Fiction
  • Write Tight: How to Keep Your Prose Sharp, Focused and Concise

All 3 are wishlist books. The first one has over 50 people wishing for it. But, I like it and am not giving it up.

Date Posted: 6/21/2008 9:00 PM ET
Member Since: 4/9/2008
Posts: 21
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I've got something like five or six that are hard for me to part with. But mainly because each has a chapter or two that is valuble, rarely is one book so good that the whole thing is reason for me to keep it.

I'm going to have to look through them again and decide wether they are worth it, and maybe just make notes about the good parts. If I can do that I will only have one or two. I'll have to look at "Damn..." though. It looks like a decent book.

I'm bad with titles so I can't remeber the names of my books but there is one that I find super informative that I'll try and recomend, I also have the "How to write tales of horror, fant..." that you mentioned I think. It was a gift and had only one or two things I thought were any good for me. That's actually one I'm debating on setting free.

Date Posted: 6/21/2008 9:10 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2008
Posts: 428
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The "Damn" book is great. Although I've only gotten these books recently, I've already read this one twice. It's all about non-fiction. Basically, it helps you to focus on the niche backlist books. The guy who wrote it has written a number of other books including "Roget's Super Thesaurus". He practices what he preaches.

Date Posted: 6/21/2008 11:00 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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None, I borrowed all mine from the library:)

The only writing type books I need are the ones on grammar, a dictionary and a 1001 baby names book.

Though I am eyeing that writers complete crime reference book on your shelf  Tim..lol  I mostly write fantasy so would rather get something along those lines.

Date Posted: 6/21/2008 11:55 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2008
Posts: 428
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I've been to the closest library. I was less than impressed. Of course, I suspect that a public library for a town of 2500 can't afford a huge selection of books.

I'm going to keep the only fantasy writing book that I have for right now. However, I seem to be missing a few books. I was sure that I had a couple more. Oh well, they'll turn up.

Do you have any fantasy published? Preferably on here where I can request it.

Date Posted: 6/24/2008 3:49 PM ET
Member Since: 10/8/2007
Posts: 1
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Well, I have at least seven.

The only one that was helpful was Stephen King's "On Writing" I shall never part with it. It has great insight into how he writes and how he got started.

Date Posted: 6/24/2008 8:12 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2008
Posts: 428
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"On Writing" is one of those books that were in one of the boxes of books that I got right before I started PBS. But, before I decided to look into writing, I traded it away. I'm sort of regretting doing that. I've heard a couple of people say that it was good.

Date Posted: 6/25/2008 11:00 AM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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No, I as yet have nothing published but have been rejected from a few places due to my Sci fi short story being too strange for the spec lit magazines.. kinda feel proud I can weird those guys out..LOL  It was something worth the experience of the process of submitting things, sure it sucked but I wont give up.

On Writing was good, one I plan to read again..I think it has quite a long WL on here but have seen it at several used book stores.


Date Posted: 6/25/2008 12:52 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2008
Posts: 428
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When I first bought my books, a couple of boxes of them were writing books. The guy I bought them from was a writer albeit non-fiction. It was only after I started reading on here that I decided to at least to try and write. Considering the number of writing books that I have sent out, I should have made the decision a lot earlier.

Subject: On Writing
Date Posted: 6/26/2008 8:18 PM ET
Member Since: 1/31/2008
Posts: 11
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I have to agree that Stephen King's On Writing is a must read for writers and anyone who is just curious about the creative process.

Strunk's Elements of Style has been very helpful. 

Thesaurus online is a must.



Date Posted: 6/27/2008 12:47 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2008
Posts: 428
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I just noticed that the latest version of the Writer's Market is now listed on Amazon. Since no one listed it here, I'm assuming that it's not nearly as helpful as I've seen mentioned in a few other places.

Date Posted: 6/27/2008 3:47 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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I use the online version of writers market rather then buy the book. Main reason is they update the site alot so I do not end up sending stuff to agents that are no longer accepting ms.  I feel it is better value for money, and my library buys the up to date versions all the time.

Date Posted: 6/27/2008 5:21 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2008
Posts: 428
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What's the address for the online version?

--- Edited ---

Nevermind. I should have looked before asking the question.

Last Edited on: 6/27/08 5:23 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/1/2008 3:24 PM ET
Member Since: 9/17/2007
Posts: 367
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  • On Writing
  • On Writing Well
  • Welcome to Hell: A Beginner's Guide for the Working Writer
  • Elements of Style
  • The Writer's Journey
  • The Artist's Way
  • Bird by Bird
  • The Well-Fed Writer
  • Too Lazy To Work, Too Nervous To Steal
Date Posted: 7/6/2008 5:35 PM ET
Member Since: 12/22/2007
Posts: 589
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I have 35 books about writing and the process. Then 5 'style' books (Chicago Manual of Style, Words into Type, The Christian Writer's Manual of Style, The Little Style Guide to Great Christian Writing and Publishing and Strunk and White - The Elements of Style). Plus an updated Dictionary since the one I had didn't have the new computer lingo terms in it and a Thesaurus.

And this number (40) doesn't include the 33 non-fiction books that I have in regards to topics I'm researching for projects (or need to keep in case I need to verify information. (a large number of the 33 are law enforcement and firearm related).

The books that are my favorites of the writing ones (I'm starting to go through and weed out my ummm... collection), and so far my keepers are:

  • Motivate Your Writing by Stephen P. Kelner
  • Don't Murder Your Mystery by Chris Roerden
  • The Complete Guide to Editing Your Fiction by Michael Seidman
  • On Writing by Stephen King
  • Writing for the Soul by Jerry Jenkins
  • Give 'Em What They Want (The Right Way to Pitch Your Novel to Editors and Agents) by Blythe Cameson and Marshall J. Cook
  • The Street-Smart Writer (Self-Defense Against Sharks and Scams in the Writing World) by Jenna Glatzer and Daniel Stern

Give 'Em What They Want is the best book that I've come across for the fiction writer on writing queries, outlines and synopses. Most books are geared toward non-fiction proposals rather than fiction. I found the book easy to understand with great examples.


Date Posted: 7/16/2008 5:41 PM ET
Member Since: 3/15/2007
Posts: 63
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I have about 30. My favorites:

If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland - very beginner book - inspires confidence

Page After Page by Heather Sellers - wonderful little nuggets of writing advice with attitude

Pocket Muse by Monica Wood - unique, short prompts that really spark my creativity

*** Writing With Power by Peter Elbow - This is the best practical book on the writing process and getting words down on paper. This helped me tremendously with my college writing and helped me get 4.0's on my research papers. Highly recommended for any type of writing.

Subject: Writing Books
Date Posted: 8/2/2008 6:40 PM ET
Member Since: 12/23/2004
Posts: 252
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 I have so many books that I'm passing on about 75% of the writing books I read (and I read a lot during non-creative phases between bouts of marathon writing). I just let go of Stephen King's On Writing, though I found it quite valuable. The ones I've kept so far are:

Anne Lamott: Bird by Bird (marvelous)

Noah Lukeman: The First Five Pages (invaluable)

Charles Baxter: The Art of Subtext (fairly good - I keep it only because I'm trying to become a masterof subtext and there aren't many books on the subject )

Peter Selgin: By Cunning and Craft (I'm taking notes on it now).

And I have about 30 writing books I haven't read yet..........

I've gained quite a bit from half a dozen or so of the Writer's Digest books on subjects like plot, character,
description and setting but I've passed them all on here or sold them at Amazon.

Some books, like Writing the Breakout Novel, seemed quite valuable when I read them........but had a bad influence upon me, because my novel is more literary fiction, and when I focus on writing in a marketable way I lose my creative flow.......

Tracy in Massachusetts


Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 8/16/2008 4:10 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 3,849
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How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy

Characters and Viewpoint

Both signed and personalized by the author, Orson Scott Card, who I got to meet when he delivered a lecture at my college a couple of summers ago. 

Date Posted: 8/21/2008 8:28 PM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2005
Posts: 10,718
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Wow I must be in the minority because I have about 50 and they are all keepers except the yearly guides which I replace every couple of years. Mine are mostly about Christian fiction and writing for magazines. Wish I had the nerve to actually submit one of my article ideas someplace...

Date Posted: 8/22/2008 1:55 PM ET
Member Since: 8/22/2008
Posts: 2
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Some of my favorites are:


  • Bird by Bird
  • Writing Down the Bones
  • The Artist's Way
  • The Right to Write
  • Fruitflesh
  • On Writing Romance
  • The Complete Writer's Guide to Heroes and Heroines
  • Give 'Em What They Want


Date Posted: 8/25/2008 1:15 AM ET
Member Since: 8/22/2008
Posts: 13
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I have a ton and some of them, I posted because I've had them forever and yes, I've used them, but I use others much more. Also, I was hoping to get some new ones. The ones I've posted were gobbled up. Those are:

The first five pages, by Noah Lukeman, very good.

No more rejections 50 Secrets to writing a manuscript that sells by Alice Orr

Writers Guide to Crafting Stories for Children by Nancy Lamb

The Plot Thickens 8 Ways to bring fiction to life Noah Lukeman again

20 Master Plots and how to build them

No Plot, No Problem A no stress, high-velocity guide to writing a novel in 30 days

On Writing by Stephen King is currently on hold on someone's wish list

The Essentials of English and the Forest for the Trees are the only ones I have left on  my bookshelf and I just posted for the first time this week. I didn't  think things would fly that fast.

The one's I've kept that I don't think I'll give up anytime soon are:

Writing the Breakout Novel workbook (love this) has exercises and great examples of what works and why and book that goes with it by Donald Mass

The Write Great Fiction series from writers digest which I have four of, Dialogue, by Gloria Kempton, Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell, the other two are viewpoint and setting.

What would your character do: personality quizes for analyzing your character

What if, writing exercises for fiction writers

Writing stories from the heart

45 Master Characters by Victoria Schmidt. Love this book

Anyway, that's some of them. Matt C. cool about meeting Orson Scott Card. I've read some of his books about writing as well as his fiction and love him. Happy writing to all. LAR






Date Posted: 8/25/2008 1:16 AM ET
Member Since: 8/22/2008
Posts: 13
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Hmm, can't seem to get my responses to not be doubled spaced. Sorry, I'll have to check on that. LAR


Date Posted: 8/25/2008 2:16 AM ET
Member Since: 8/24/2008
Posts: 1
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The best book on writing I've found is unfortunately out of print. It's Immediate Fiction by Jerry Cleaver. I can't find my copy right now after three moves, but when it turns up I will read it cover to cover again. It's indispensible!

I couldn't get into Bird by Bird and couldn't see what all the fuss was about. Stephen King's book was ok, but not very practical.

When I find my box of writing books I'll list the ones that were truly helpful. It will likely be a short list.

Good question!

Date Posted: 9/4/2008 3:59 PM ET
Member Since: 7/25/2006
Posts: 53
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Oh, 200-300 probably. Having taught a variety of writing, language and literature courses for 30 years or so, I find my bookshelves still crowded, even though I'm theoretically retired. Quite a few have found their way to my pbs Bookshelf, but many are patiently waiting until I convince myself they are ready to go back out into the world.
Date Posted: 9/16/2008 7:54 AM ET
Member Since: 4/3/2008
Posts: 541
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My keepers:

On Writing

Elements of Style

Writing Down the Bones - Natalie Goldberge

What a Writer Needs - Ralph Fletcher

Eats, Shoots & Leaves - Lynne Truss

Painless Grammar (quick reference only) - Rebecca Elliott


On the birthday list I just gave my mom;

Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly - Gail Carson Levine


I used to include The Artist's Way in this list, but recently I realized that I not only have I never finished it, but the act of writing the morning pages and doing all the exercises does nothing for me but piss me off. So I'm putting my (unpostable) copy up for grabs.