Enjoy this collection of writing books that I've acquired over the years. I hope that one of these books, or a few of them, spark something in you and fuel the creative flame within you.
THE ROMANCE WRITER'S PHRASE BOOK
Jean Kent & Candace Shelton
Description: Have you ever had your romance manuscript rejected because it lacked romantic tension? Now there’s The Romance Writer’s Phrase Book, the first word book designed especially for romance writers everywhere. The essential source book for every romantic novelist, this helpful guide contains over 3,000 descriptive tags all arranged for quick, easy reference. Now you two can add life and breath to any romantic novel. This book neatly organizes these tags into fifty easy-to-use categories, including: physical description, body movements, facial expressions, eyes, voices, emotions, and sex. Guaranteed to stimulate the imagination and make your manuscript a resounding success.
My Thoughts: I often find myself sitting at my desk trying to think of alternative words for “sucked”, “cock”, or “buggered from behind” and as much as I love the internet, sometimes it really takes me out of my element to pick up my phone or open a new window and google something. This book is great for not just synonyms of commonly used words, but also various phrases that you’ll find yourself trying to flesh out or make more creative. It’s just a great resource to have on your desk!
WRITING TOOLS: 50 ESSENTIAL STRATEGIES FOR EVERY WRITER
Roy Peter Clarke
Description: One of America's most influential writing teachers offers a toolbox from which writers of all kinds can draw practical inspiration. "Writing is a craft you can learn," says Roy Peter Clark. "You need tools, not rules." His book distills decades of experience into 50 tools that will help any writer become more fluent and effective. This book covers everything from the most basic ("Tool 5: Watch those adverbs") to the more complex ("Tool 34: Turn your notebook into a camera") and provides more than 200 examples from literature and journalism to illustrate the concepts. For students, aspiring novelists, and writers of memos, e-mails, PowerPoint presentations, and love letters, here are 50 indispensable, memorable, and usable tools.
My Thoughts: Again, not every tool in this handy book will be relevant for romance writers, but I absolutely loved the layout of this book. Each tool had it's own short and to the point chapter and following each tool was a mini "workshop" that helped you apply the tool to your own writing or every day life! Really a great book for those who need practical ways to apply the knowledge they're learning as they're learning it.
THE ARTIST'S WAY
Description: The Artist’s Way is the seminal book on the subject of creativity. An international bestseller, millions of readers have found it to be an invaluable guide to living the artist’s life. Still as vital today—or perhaps even more so—than it was when it was first published one decade ago, it is a powerfully provocative and inspiring work. In a new introduction to the book, Julia Cameron reflects upon the impact of The Artist’s Way and describes the work she has done during the last decade and the new insights into the creative process that she has gained.
My Thoughts: I think that this was a wonderful book for the aspiring author who is struggling to find time to write and even those with published books who find themselves losing inspiration and getting stuck in that dreaded writer’s block. The Artist’s Way does have a religious element to it. I, myself, am not religious, but I didn’t find that it really stood in my way of understanding what the author was trying to get at. I simply skimmed over any religious references and focused on the writing advice. I, also, utilized the writing workbook that you can purchase alongside the text. Cameron recommends writing three pages every morning. Doesn’t matter what you write about. Just write. I spent one month writing every day, and following her daily advice, and was definitely inspired!
NAUGHTY WORDS FOR NICE WRITERS: A ROMANCE WRITER'S THESAURUS
Description: If finding the right words for your romantic sex scene is challenging, Naughty Words for Nice Writers can help. USA Today Bestselling Author Cara Bristol has written a thesaurus for romance authors to help you find the appropriate words to make your sex scene sizzle. Naughty Words for Nice Writers is packed with more than 2,000 usable, functional synonyms geared for romance, erotic romance, and erotica. Included are more than 50 word lists for male and female anatomy, foreplay, orgasm, kissing, sex scene locations, specific sexual acts, sexual noises, spanking terminology, and much more. The guide offers suggestions on how to write a sex scene and how to tighten your writing so it sings. With an emphasis on verbs, this guide will help you “show” the intimacy between your characters rather than tell it. Whether you’re writing a “fade to black” scene or a graphic and explicit one, Naughty Words for Nice Writers will provide the tools.
My Thought: This is just another awesome book to have on your desk to eliminate the need for opening up that internet tab and ruining your flow. I’ve thumbed through it a number of times not only for assistance with a current wording problem but also just for inspiration. There are definitely some words/phrases I’d never even heard of!
Description: "Long live the King" hailed Entertainment Weekly upon the publication of Stephen King's On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer's craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King's advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported near-fatal accident in 1999 -- and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it -- fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.
My Thoughts: This is single-handedly one of the best books I have ever read on the subject of writing. Stephen King is my mom’s hero, but I always found his books to be a little blah. I want blood and guts and to be utterly terrified and King’s books, with their weird slow burn scare, just never did it for me. Still, when my mother recommended I read his book I decided to give it a chance. The first half of the book is a short memoir of King’s writing journey—from one million rejection letters to his wife rescuing Carrie from a trashcan and demanding he continue working on it. His journey alone is incredibly inspiring, but his writing advice is exceptional. Not all of it is relevant for the romance writing world, but most of the tips are universal. This book will leave you foaming at the mouth with motivation.
Description: Write Naked intermingles personal essays on craft with down-to-earth advice on writing romance in the digital age. Probst will teach you how to: Commit to your current work-in-progress, get focused, and complete it on schedule, reveal raw emotions and thoughts on the page to hook your readers, assemble a street team to promote and celebrate your books, overcome writer's block with ease, develop themes that tie together your books and series, write the most difficult elements of romance--including sex scenes--with skill and style. Regardless of the genre, every novelist faces a difficult task. Creating authentic characters and an engaging plot are challenging enough. But attempting to break into the hotter-than-ever romance genre, which is constantly flooded with new titles and fresh faces? It can feel impossible. This is where Probst's Write Naked comes in. To survive--and thrive--you need the help and wisdom of an expert.
My Thoughts: I was amazed when a coworker at the independent bookstore I work at put this book aside for me one day. All writing resources will have some relatability to writing romance novels, but a book on writing romance novels specifically? Nothing compares! I absolutely loved all the information this book had to offer and with its sections on promoting/marketing your work it’s the perfect companion for published authors as well as aspiring authors. A definite must-have!
ROMANCING THE BEAT
Description: What makes a romance novel a romance? How do you write a kissing book? Writing a well-structured romance isn’t the same as writing any other genre—something the popular novel and screenwriting guides don’t address. The romance arc is made up of its own story beats, and the external plot and theme need to be braided to the romance arc—not the other way around. Told in conversational (and often irreverent) prose, Romancing the Beat can be read like you are sitting down to coffee with romance editor and author Gwen Hayes while she explains story structure. The way she does with her clients. Some of whom are regular inhabitants of the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists. Romancing the Beat is a recipe, not a rigid system. The beats don’t care if you plot or outline before you write, or if you pants your way through the drafts and do a “beat check” when you’re revising. Pantsers and plotters are both welcome. So sit down, grab a cuppa, and let’s talk about kissing books.
My Thought: So many people out there don’t realize that almost all romance novels follow a rather specific structure. It’s part of the charm of a romance novel! You know it’ll end happy and you know that the author is going to hit some very specific plot points. Romancing the Beat breaks down those plot points you might have never even realized were present. I really enjoyed the way the author went through each section without making it too preachy or analytical. It’s great information provided in a way that makes it seem possible!
BIRD BY BIRD: SOME INSTRUCTION ON WRITING AND LIFE
Description: Anne Lamott returns to offer us a new gift: a step-by-step guide on how to write and on how to manage the writer's life. From "Getting Started,' with "Short Assignments," through "Shitty First Drafts," "Character," "Plot," "Dialogue." all the way from "False Starts" to "How Do You Know When You're Done?" Lamott encourages, instructs, and inspires. She discusses "Writers Block," "Writing Groups," and "Publication." Bracingly honest, she is also one of the funniest people alive. If you have ever wondered what it takes to be a writer, what it means to be a writer, what the contents of your school lunches said about what your parents were really like, this book is for you. From faith, love, and grace to pain, jealousy, and fear, Lamott insists that you keep your eyes open, and then shows you how to survive. And always, from the life of the artist she turns to the art of life.
My Thoughts: The font is tiny, but the advice in this book is huge! I especially loved the chapter Shitty First Drafts. This book is partly the author's own journey towards publication, but it's also full of amazing guidance and examples to help move your own writing forward. Lamott's writing style makes you feel like you're talking to a friend.
DANGEROUS BOOK FOR GIRLS: THE BAD REPUTATION OF ROMANCE NOVELS EXPLAINED
Description: Long before clinch covers and bodice rippers, romance novels have had a bad reputation as the lowbrow lit of desperate housewives and hopeless spinsters. But in fact, romance novels—the escape and entertainment of choice for millions of women—might prove to be the most revolutionary writing ever produced. Dangerous Books for Girls examines the origins of the genre’s bad reputation—from the “damned mob of scribbling women” in the nineteenth century to the sexy mass-market paperbacks of the twentieth century—and shows how these books have inspired and empowered generations of women to dream big, refuse to settle, and believe they’re worth it. For every woman who has ever hidden the cover of a romance—and for every woman who has been curious about those “Fabio books”—Dangerous Books For Girls shows why there’s no room for guilt when reading for pleasure.
My Thoughts: This is less of a writing guide and more of a romance novel guide. I thought I knew romance novels inside and out, but it turns out that I knew only 1% of the fascinating history of romance novels. I strongly suggest that anyone interested in writing romance pick up this book and learn about what makes the genre so special. I found myself calling up my mother in the middle of reading just to relay an interesting fact. I’d stop my roommate mid-trip to the bathroom to tell her a crazy statistic. It’s an absolute delight to learn the history of my favorite genre.
DANGEROUS MEN AND ADVENTUROUS WOMEN
Edited by: Jayne Ann Krentz
Description: In Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women, Jayne Ann Krentz and the contributors to this volume—all best-selling romance writers—explode myths and biases that haunt both the writers and readers of romances. In this seamless, ultimately fascinating, and controversial book, the authors dispute some of the notions that plague their profession, including the time-worn theory that the romance genre contains only one single, monolithic story, which is cranked out over and over again. The authors discuss positive life-affirming values inherent in all romances: the celebration of female power, courage, intelligence, and gentleness; the inversion of the power structure of a patriarchal society; and the integration of male and female. Several of the essays also discuss the issue of reader identification with the characters, a relationship that is far more complex than most critics realize.
My Thoughts: Though this book is a little dated (hello, 1992) it's a wealth of history about the genre and fabulous writing advice from some of the most well-known romance authors out there! They're short, quick articles on a wealth of topics that are useful to anyone who needs a little kick in the butt with their writing.
Every one of these books sit on my bookshelves and I reach for them in times when I feel like giving up my writing. They won't instantly make you the perfect writer--that comes with time and effort and a lot of editing--but they're the friends you need when it all feels like it's going wrong. They're the people whispering at your ear that you can keep going when things get tough.
I encourage you to go out and purchase one of these, some of these, all of these. Whatever. And get your write on! Feel free to recommend any other books that have helped you perfect your craft, too. I'm also looking for more!
Remember, whenpossible, please contact your independent bookstore to purchase books & support the indie movement!