"Nobody Ever Got Published by Writing A Good Book" ~ well that gives me hope!
My Creative Writing teacher is called Dianne Doubtfire, who wrote what is by far the best how-to book for beginners, called The Craft of Novel Writing. Anyone looking for a good guidebook can do worse than read this. Unlike so very many others on the market it does not push the author's personal agenda and preferences. A rare gem indeed!
Actually another good one is Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande. Also very good.
By clicking on the above titles you can read the Amazon UK reviews. Dianne Doubtfire's book appears to be unknown in the USA (shame!); but you can read Dorothea Brande's reviews on American Amazon by clicking here.
Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft ~ it has been recommended to me several times but I haven't read it. I don't need another excuse to procrastinate my prose! All in all I would say these are the three best guides to writing, and this coming from a country where the "how to" industry regarding novel-writing and the like is still in its infancy compared to America where big colleges offer degree courses in the subject. Over here this would be considered a "soft subject" (ie an indulgent waste of time). Unless a student from the course produced a hit of Da Vinci Code proportions (The Davinci Code, incidentally outsold Michael Jackson's Thriller) in which case there'd be queues at the admission office door.
And you can read the 883 American customer reviews here.
Personally I feel all the advice I need has sunk in. And all I'm doing now is tinkering yet again with chapter one. (The first rewrite, done before the book hit the back of a closet three years ago was actually considerably worse than the original!) And wondering if and what manner of "sub-plots" I need to weave in. As I said before, this book is pretty much a ficitionalized memoir (which does not mean disguised autobiography ~ if I wanted to write a memoir I'd have finished scribbling out my own) so the plot is pretty much and then - and then - and then. I don't think I will ever be a master plotter. I like to consider myself a "novelist of character" and poor literary agents all around London will be laughing at that one, once the finished book is inflicted on them ~ hahar!
The writer's guide I really need is "how to write a synopsis that sells" (and there probably IS a book with this title but I don't necessarily mean it. I just mean the best guide to that particular subject. Because I got asked to do that when I tried to sell my ridiculous first novel. I won't tell you what it's about in case you fall off your chair laughing.
And on that note I'd better flee. I had the most shocking diarrhoea yesterday but it's all slurried out now. And I woke up bright and early this morning, watched Everybody Loves Raymond and Frasier (because they come on between 7:30 and 9:00) then put on Vanessa Felz on the radio and started scrubbing the floors. Just like my Mum does. She always does housework to the radio so I feel most grown up attempting to do the same. Well I'd better run before the morning's over. It's 10 to 11 as we speak ...
Illustrated: Dorothea Brande, Stephen King. No picture appears to exist online for Dianne Doubtfire ~ shame! And my 2 favourite characters from my book: "Polly wants a crackhead!" ~ my talking parrot. And Gwendolina the slavering hellhound. I can never find a picture that looks anything like her ~ she's meant to look something like a cross between a wild boar and a bear... And might even look cute, were it not for her ceaseless malevolent snarling ...
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