Thursday, March 9, 2017

Not All Writing Books Are Created Equal – by Patricia Beal

There are so many writing books out there. How can we know what to buy?

How about I tell you about my favorites and you tell me about yours?

Here goes.

For writing for the right reasons and for doing it with God: The Story of With by Allen Arnold. What's the fuss all about? For me, this book gives me permission to be sane when the whole world screams, "do more." I'm sure it's many things to many people. It addresses our addiction to approval, the toxicity of expectations, and the uselessness of pursuing control and even balance. Revolutionary. A must read. 

Favorite craft book: The First 50 Pages by Jeff Gerke. Why? I love his voice (you'll think he's next to you sharing cool tips over a cup of coffee), the material is fantastic, and he uses movies to illustrate writing/plotting technique. If you're not familiar with a movie, you can become familiar in two hours. If you're not familiar with a novel, it takes longer. A lot longer, if you read like I do. Slowpoke. Yep. That's me.

For deep POV: Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson. Oh my goodness, I love this book. Most of us have figured out deep POV by now, but if you haven't, do yourself a favor and don't write another word until you get this. The best part of Jill's book is that it's about 50 pages long and has all it has to have. The reasoning behind deep POV, a breakdown of different aspects with multiple examples of shallow vs. deep side by side, and several exercises. It's wonderful. Did I mention I'm a slow reader? Yes, short books are my friends.

Encouragement for the writing journey: Victim of Grace by Robin Jones Gunn. Robin shares her path to publication, the many times she wanted to quit, the blessings in disguise, and the many troubles of the early stages of the writing/publishing life. She bares her heart and makes us stronger. A wonderful and encouraging read for the frustrated, rejected, tired, and everything in between.

For writing book proposals: Step by Step Pitches & Proposals, by Chip MacGregor with Holly Lorincz. They share several real proposals that landed real book deals (as opposed to unreal ones? what am I writing?). The proposal for our Kara Isaac's debut is part of the book! What they share is fresh, will shorten your proposals' front matter, and get agents/editors attention. Different? Yes. Effective? Absolutely.

Pitch strategy: How to Pitch and Sell your Novel – a chat with James L. Rubart. Not a book, obviously, but a video seminar. This thing is fantastic. It's very unusual, but highly effective. I was scared to try but I did and it paid off. The link is acting funny, but I'm checking with Jim and should soon have something that works. Hold tight. Thanks!


Video seminar:

Your turn! What are your favorite resources and why?

Patricia Beal writes contemporary Christian fiction and is represented by Leslie Stobbe of the Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency. Her debut novel, A Season to Dance, comes out on May 9, 2017 (Bling! / Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas). The pre-order link is up!

She’s a 2015 Genesis semi-finalist and First Impressions finalist. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati in 1998 with a B.A. in English Literature and then worked as a public affairs officer for the U.S. Army for seven years. Now, after a 10-year break in service, she is an Army editor. She and her husband live in El Paso, Texas, with their two children.


    1. Really helpful post, Patricia. I love Allen's book and Jeff's is excellent too.

      I found Larry Brooks' "Story Engineering" to be tremendous in the overall structuring of a novel. A number of friends of mine are raving about Lisa Cron's "Story Genius" especially as regards developing strong characters. It will be my next craft book to dive into.

      1. Thanks! And thanks for the input and for being such an encourager here always. Have a great weekend! :)

    2. I need to add Allen's book to my to-buy list. Which is almost as long as bought-but-not-yet-read list. :(

      My recommended books - I often recommend Rivet Your Readers with Deep POV. As you say, short and to the point.

      Also, my twisted sense of humour loved How Not to Write a Novel by Howard Mittlemark and Sandra Newman. It's short and pithy.

      And my editor self loves Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King, and Revision and Self-Editing for Publication by James Scott Bell.

      And another vote for Story Genius (read and loved) and Story Engineering (currently reading).

      1. Browne & King is good! I have that too. Should have put it on the list. Thanks for the reminder. And cool that you're into Ian's recommendations too! Do get your hands on Allen's book. It's life altering. I changed direction and focus in my writing career because of it and believe I'm in a better place. Top of the list, without a doubt ;)

    3. I love books and book lists! Thank you for this post. I have some you mention (and some mentioned in the above comments). I'm looking forward to reading the new titles!

      1. Hi Hope! Nice to see you here. Glad this helps :)