At our kick-off meeting for the 2019/20 season, members gathered at Thomas Wall Community Lounge to share the writing resources they have found helpful with their writing efforts. The session was wonderfully chaired by Kirsteen Coupar, who also produced the below overview of some of the resources discussed.
You should be able to find most of these resources on Amazon, or ask at your local independent bookstore.
What have you found useful or helpful in your writing? Share in the comments below, and let’s create a living record of useful resources for writers.
The Hero with a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell
Since its release in 1949, The Hero with a Thousand Faces has influenced millions of readers by combining the insights of modern psychology with Joseph Campbell’s revolutionary understanding of comparative mythology. In these pages, Campbell outlines the Hero’s Journey, a universal motif of adventure and transformation that runs through virtually all of the world’s mythic traditions.
The Writers’ Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, by Christopher Vogler
Presenting a study of film as storytelling, this book examines how the great works of cinema history have used the principles of myth to create stories which are dramatic, entertaining, and psychologically true. The author looks not only at how outstanding figures from Hitchcock to Lucas, Spielberg and Tarantino have used mythic structure to create powerful stories, but also offers step-by-step guidelines designed to help readers to incorporate effective plot structure and characterisation in their own writing.
On Writing, By Stephen King
There is a reason why Stephen King is one of the bestselling writers in the world, ever. Described in the Guardian as ‘the most remarkable storyteller in modern American literature’, Stephen King writes books that draw you in and are impossible to put down. 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 the 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.
Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting, by Robert McKee
Structure is Character. Characters are what they do. Story events impact the characters and the characters impact events. Actions and reactions create revelation and insight, opening the door to a meaningful emotional experience for the audience. Story is what elevates a film, a novel, a play, or teleplay, transforming a good work into a great one. Movie-making in particular is a collaborative endeavour – requiring great skill and talent by the entire cast, crew and creative team – but the screenwriter is the only original artist on a film. Everyone else – the actors, directors, cameramen, production designers, editors, special effects wizards and so on – are interpretive artists, trying to bring alive the world, the events and the characters that the writer has invented and created. Robert McKee’s STORY is a comprehensive and superbly organised exploration of all elements, from the basics to advanced concepts. It is a practical course, presenting new perspectives on the craft of storytelling, not just for the screenwriter but for the novelist, playwright, journalist and non-fiction writers of all types.
Goal, Motivation and Conflict, by Debra Dixon
Goal, motivation and conflict are the foundation of everything that happens in the story world. Using charts, examples and movies, the author breaks these key elements down into understandable components and walks the reader through the process of laying this foundation in his or her own work.
Ready, Set, Novel! Plan and Plot Your Upcoming Masterpiece, by Tavia Stewart-Streit, Lindsey Grant and Chris Baty
This writer’s block-busting workbook guides authors through the process of planning and plotting their novel before writing it, from the initial idea generation and brainstorming through character, setting and story development. Full of helpful lists, plot maps, character Q&As, field trips, writing exercises, inspiring quotes, and much more, the book provides ample inspiration and guidance for first-time novelists and more seasoned scribes alike.
Stein on Writing, by Sol Stein
Your future as a writer is in your hands. Whether you are a newcomer or an accomplished professional, a novelist, story writer or a writer of non-fiction, you will find this book a wealth of immediately useful guidance not available anywhere else. As Sol Stein, renowned editor, author and instructor, explains: “This is not a book of theory. It is a book of useable solutions – how to fix writing that is flawed, how to improve writing that is god, how to create interesting writing in the first place.”
How to Grow a Novel: The Most Common Mistakes Writers Make and How to Overcome Them, by Sol Stein
How to Grow a Novel is not just a book, but an invaluable workshop in print. It includes details and examples from Stein’s editorial work with a #1 bestselling novelist as well as talented newcomers. Stein takes the reader backstage in the development of memorable characters and fascinating plots.
Into the Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them, by John York
We all love stories. But why do we tell them? And why do all stories function in an eerily similar way? John Yorke, creator of the BBC Writers’ Academy, has brought a vast array of drama to British screens. Here he takes us on a journey to the heart of storytelling, revealing that there truly is a unifying shape to narrative forms – one that echoes the fairytale journey into the woods and, like any great art, comes from deep within. From ancient myths to big-budget blockbusters, he gets to the root of the stories that are all around us, every day.
The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life, by Noah Lukeman
As a literary agent, Noah Lukeman hears thousands of book pitches a year. Often the stories sound great in concept, but never live up to their potential on the page. Lukeman shows beginning and advanced writers how to implement the fundamentals of successful plot development, such as character building and heightened suspense and conflict. Writers will find it impossible to walk away from this invaluable guide—a veritable fiction-writing workshop—without boundless new ideas.
Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting That You’ll Ever Need, by Blake Snyder
Snyder tells all in this fast, funny and candid look inside the movie business. “Save the Cat” is just one of many ironclad rules for making your ideas more marketable and your script more satisfying – including the four elements of every winning logline; the seven immutable laws of screenplay physics; the 10 genres that every movie ever made can be categorized by – and why they’re important to your script.
No Plot? No Problem!, by Chris Baty
Chris Baty, founder of the wildly successful literary marathon known as National Novel Writing Month, pulls from over 15 years of results-oriented writing experience to pack this compendium with new tips and tricks, ranging from week-by-week quick reference guides to encouraging advice from authors and much more. His motivating mix of fearless optimism and practical solutions to common excuses gives both first-time novelists and results-oriented writers the kick-start they need to embark on an exhilarating creative adventure.
Faulks on Fiction, by Sebastian Faulks
Ever since Robinson Crusoe in 1719, the novel has introduced British readers to truly unforgettable characters – people in whom we can find deeper understanding of our own lives. In this engaging and personal book, Sebastian Faulks examines and celebrates the most famous and best-loved of these dazzling fictional creations and their wider impact on British culture as a whole. From Sherlock Holmes and Mr Darcy to Emma Woodhouse and James Bond – this is the story of the heroes, lovers, snobs and villains in all of us.
Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success, by KM Weiland
Writers often look upon outlines with fear and trembling, but when properly understood and correctly wielded, the outline is one of the most powerful weapons in a writer’s arsenal. This book can help you choose the right type of outline for you; guide you in brainstorming plot ideas; aid you in discovering your characters; show you how to structure your scenes; explain how to format your finished outline; instruct you in how to use your outline; reveal the benefits; dispel the misconceptions. It includes exclusive interviews with ten respected authors, answering important questions about outlining.
Please Understand Me: Character and Temperament Types, by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates
While this is a psychology book focussing on the classification and categorisation of personality types, members have found it useful in assessing and developing characters in their writing.
Write a novel in the month of November using Nanowrimo’s online resources, and drawing on its vibrant global community of writers. See more at nanowrimo.org
Editorial advice, masterclasses and much more available at jerichowriters.com
Scrivener is the go-to app for writers of all kinds, used every day by best-selling novelists, screenwriters, non-fiction writers, students, academics, lawyers, journalists, translators and more. Scrivener won’t tell you how to write—it simply provides everything you need to start writing and keep writing. Available at the Literature and Latte website.