Thursday, May 18, 2006

Reference books for writers

Next week York Writers will be discussing reference books for writers. Unfortunately, I didn't go to the previous meeting, so couldn't check out the exact definition. I'm presuming its to do with books on writing, including 'how to' guides, as well as anything to do with general research, grammar, or other mechanics.

The funniest one I can think of is How Not to Write a Novel by David Armstrong. He goes through from A-Z with comments on such important topics as Agents, Courses, Luck and Unpleasantness. It's not particularly practical, but it is amusing and insightful. If I want to find out anything about the buzz words in writing (such as pov, characterisation, etc), I generally turn to The Novelist's Guide by Margret Geraghty. I read this when I was starting out, so it made a big impression on me. There are lots of others on the market, and it's just a case of finding one that suits.

Robert McKee
's Story on scriptwriting is much admired, even by those not writing scripts. It's been passed to me by a good friend, but I haven't read it yet. And of course I own a copy of agent Carole Blake's From Pitch to Publication. Blake is quite a champion of historical fiction, so it's doubly required in my library.

On the specific historical fiction front, I own a couple of 'how to' guides, some of which I've found a bit self-evident. I think it's due to the chapters on research, which I don't really need help on. They sometimes comment on finding an acceptable form of language, creating characters in tune with their times, and so on, which is useful; Marina Oliver in Writing Historical Fiction published by How To Books. This isn't in print any more, but recently Oliver has published something with the same title but another publisher. Unintentionally amusing is Persia Woolley's How to Write and Sell Historical Fiction. She seems to think that the British have a thing called a 'brawly' which they carry should it rain. That'll be a 'brolly' ...

Martyn, if you'd like someone to go to the meeting with and show you the ropes (getting in the building can be a fiddle), I'll meet you somewhere on H*****e Road. On the other hand, you might like to take the opportunity to avoid this meeting ;-)

Edit: It's 6pm and I haven't heard from the bookshop, so can only assume I didn't get the job; she said she'd ring today


At 9:02 am BST, Blogger Diane said...

The Renegade Writer is a good laff for how not to do it but get away with it.

At 10:50 am BST, Blogger Alex Bordessa said...

Diane - Sounds like a good one; shall try to track it down :-) Are there any speficic how-tos for crime novels?

At 4:17 pm BST, Blogger Diane said...

There's an excellent (I feel) How to Write a Crime Novel from the Allison & Busby Writers' Guides series, but I can't remember the author's name. I can find out ... It's the one I use.sssssssssssssssssswwwwwwwwwwwwws oh, sorry, got jam on the keyboard ... :o)

At 3:07 pm BST, Blogger Diane said...

How to Write Crime Novels, by Isobel Lambot.

At 7:24 pm BST, Blogger Alex Bordessa said...

I shall look out for it. I once had to do one of those writing exercises at a conference. I was the only one who turned the scenario into a crime situation. The tutor seemed to think that was the genre I normally wrote in, so perhaps it'll be worth me exploring that aspect.


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