January 22, 2012

WRITING ADVICE – Kristine Kathryn Rusch #8: Recommended Reading List

I first ran across the work of Kristine Kathryn Rusch when her name appeared on the bottom of a standard rejection form I got from The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, where she was head editor for several years. A short time later, I ran across one of her short stories (“Retrieval Artist” in the June 2000 ANALOG), which of course, led me t0 her RETRIEVAL ARTIST novels. I’m a fan now and started reading her blog (http://kriswrites.com/) a year or more ago. As always, I look for good writing advice to pass on to you as well as applying it to my own writing. I have her permission to quote from the articles. You can find the complete article referenced below here: http://kriswrites.com/?s=April+2011

I could easily generate a Recommended Reading List, but the fact of the matter is that no one would really be interested.

“Recommendations” have to carry weight in order to interest people.

People carry weight because of their notoriety and I am not notorious...I’m not noted anywhere, either.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch has notoriety. David Brin has notoriety. Stephen King has notoriety.

So I thought I’d share a few #1 Books that Writers Should Read according to 10 different websites:

BIRD BY BIRD  Anne Lamott [pastemagazine.com]
THE ANTI 9-5   Michelle Goodman [about.com/freelance-writing]
THE KING JAMES BIBLE  [copyblogger.com]
THE ELEMENT OF STYLE   Strunk and White  [karenbarnes.hubpages.com]
WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL   Donald Maass  [writersedgeinfo.blogspot.com]
WRITING DOWN THE BONES  Natalie Goldberg  [amazon.com]
WRECK THIS JOURNAL  Keri Smith  [barnesandnoble.com]
THE SITUATION AND THE STORY  Vivian Gornick   [flashlightworthy.com]
ON WRITING WELL  William Zinsser  [infobarrel.com]
ON WRITING  Stephen King  [tabbedbooks.wordpress.com]

Strangely enough, seven professional organizations that might have made recommendations that carried weight – Writers Guild of America; Christian Writers Guild; The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators; the Horror; Romance; Science Fiction and Fantasy; and Mystery...Writers of America (based on a brief Google search) have nothing to say about the 10 Best Books for Writers. [There’s an interesting challenge to do something about!]

Seeing there doesn’t seem to be any authority speaking, I’ll add my OWN Ten Best Books For Writers:

WRITING SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY  Orson Scott Card – the single best writing book I recommend: elegant, useful, understandable, brilliant

KOMARR  Lois McMaster Bujold – a “bottom of the ladder”, deeply imagined character who chooses excellence

STARTIDE RISING  David Brin – brilliant world building

WORLD BUILDING  Stephen L. Gillette – a clear reference for alien world building

BEGINNINGS, MIDDLES AND ENDS  Nancy Kress – perfect for writing superior ones

COMEDY WRITING SECRETS  Melvin Helitzer – everyone needs to laugh, this genius shows you how to make people do it

WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL  Donald Maass – simply incredible

WALKING ON WATER  Madeleine L’Engle – demonstrates how to share a deep faith without offense

XENOGENESIS SERIES  Ocatvia Butler – pure beauty of language and subtle idea

CHRONICLES OF THOMAS COVENANT – startling in its originality and depth of character

Do YOU have a Top Ten Best Books for Writers list?


Linda B said...

Wow, I was really surprised to see Thomas Covenant on there. Although I enjoyed two other books by Donaldson (The Mirror of Her Dreams & A Man Rides Through), the Covenant series made me so angry that I was tempted to burn the last book when it finally came out! My husband and I were reading them as they came out and we hung in their with a main character that we felt was unlikable scum, because we thought there was going to be some sort of satisfying payoff at the end--but there wasn't. I will give you the originality claim though!

Leah Mooney said...

I am not sure recommendations from those with notoriety carry any weight with me. I will pick it up at the library if it is from someone I really respect and admire. Recommendations from friends and family take far more of my interest :D. Personal writing journeys are very... well, personal. Different books spark different epiphanies in different people at different times.

I like the Beginnings, Middles, Ends book. Also from that series, Plot, by Anson Dibble. Books that came to me at the most perfect time and moved me along in my path: The Portable MFA by the New York Writer's Group, Fiction First-Aid by Raymond Ostfeld, Poetry Home Repair Manual by Ted Kooser, and (part of) From Where You Dream by Robert Olen Butler.

The books that help my writing most aren't books about writing. Mostly they are other works of fiction and poetry. This year, War Dances by Sherman Alexie and Karen Russell's two books ( though, I think both books have problems, they are wonderful) pushed me in ways text books just can't.

good blog :)

Jason Campbell said...

Great blog! I have several of the books you mentioned and have benefited from them so far. A couple more I've found valuable:

* Kress, Dynamic Characters
* Schmidt, Story Structure Architect
* Hein, Christian Mythmakers
* Veith, Reading Between the Lines
* Guroian, Tending the Heart of Virtue