Those end-of-year “Best Of” lists can drive an author, published or wanna-be, crazy. Why didn’t my book make a list? When will I ever make a list? When will I be published so my book can be considered for a list? Rather than feed that anxious envy, I’d like to concentrate on a few things that I hope will help out aspiring and published writers.
Here are a few of my own suggestions for a Very Crafty New Year.
Writing Craft Books
There’s nothing like a good writing craft book to get the brain working in new and surprising ways. In a previous post, I’ve mentioned some of my favorites, but the list grows ever longer, with new books and new perspectives. Here are some adds:Wired For Story by Lisa Cron – I’m hooked on brain science. I’m also hooked on Lisa Cron’s books. In this well-documented text, Cron gives writers the science behind our human need for stories, and then presents solid craft tips and exercises to help us make our stories shine. This is the best kind of craft book, and no writer should be without it.
The Emotional Wound Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi – This is a comprehensive thesaurus. If you’re trying to get to the heart of your characters’ emotional journeys, and need to understand the psychology behind a backstory wound and how humans respond to trauma in terms of traits and behaviors, then this book may be your answer. I especially liked the intro that discusses the psychology of the backstory wound.
Verbalize by Damon Suede – Suede takes a new and interesting approach to creating compelling stories: he uses grammar. That’s right, grammar nerds. Finding the right verb can help you define your character’s behavior. Finding the right object (noun/phrase) can help you refine your scene goals. Although a bit wordy at times (hah!), I find this book fascinating and useful.
Writing Craft Ideas: Query Letters
A recent post by Lorin Oberweger of Free Expressions really got me thinking in a different way about the query letter. Her thesis is that adding the component of the emotional heart of your story can take your query from ordinary to stand-out. Here’s a snippet example of what she means:
Consider the difference between this:
“In a future America, sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen fights for her life against other teens, pitted against one another in a battle to the death.”
“In a future America, where “district” citizens are being brutally punished for a massive uprising, sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen saves her younger sister’s life by volunteering to take her place in a battle against other teens where only one will survive.”
Check out Free Expressions for more from Lorin, plus the ability to attend the best writing workshops you can imagine (a holiday gift to yourself, maybe?)
And in another post on querying, Jane Friedman takes querying apart, piece by piece, with lots of sound advice. Do sign up for her newsletter, which is always full of exceptional advice.
Writing Craft Links
In addition to the above, I highly recommend the following newsletters, which are always my top reads:
Writer Unboxed – for essays on writing and the writing life from a battery of very smart people.
Publishers Weekly Children’s Newsletter – for publishing news on the children’s side, including sales (which will inform you on what’s happening in the industry).
Do you have favorite craft books, posts, and/or links? Please share. Armed as I hope you are with these new craft resources, I hope for you and yours a very happy holiday!