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Much as I’m looking forward to the Write Stuff Conference in Allentown, PA, next month (March 26 – 27), I’m even more excited about attending the two-day, pre-conference workshop, How to Plot Like the Pros, with James N. Frey (Thursday and Friday, March 24 -25).
Frey’s How To Write A Damn Good Novel was the first writing book I ever read. 
One of the biggest discoveries I’ve made about writing (aside from the fact that it’s bloomin’ difficult) is that most ‘How to’ books, contain hidden knowledge, which only reveals itself on subsequent readings. 
I’m working my way through HTWADGN for the first time in several years, and sure enough, things which either passed me by (or more likely sailed over my head) on the first couple of readings now leap out at me from the pages. 
I particularly like Frey’s take on the subjects of premise and character development.
This year will be my third in a row at the Write Stuff con. The panel/lectures are great, the people there, delightful. I thoroughly recommend it.  
I believe there are still a few places available for the How to Plot Like the Pros workshop, but even if you can’t make it, I’d recommend How To Write A Damn Good Novel to any writer. 
How about you?
What was the first writing book you ever read?

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( 69 comments — Leave a comment )
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Feb. 24th, 2010 02:15 pm (UTC)
Er... Never read one in my life, other than online when a writer posts his advice!
Feb. 24th, 2010 04:44 pm (UTC)
Interesting. Is that a result fo a conscious decision on your part, Gustavo, or simply that you've never got around to reading one?
(no subject) - bondo_ba - Feb. 24th, 2010 06:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Feb. 24th, 2010 06:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 24th, 2010 02:43 pm (UTC)
The one and only writing book I've ever read is "Woe is I" by Patricia T O'Connor.

I've tried to read others. I think I could probably LISTEN to them, but reading them?? So far, no.
Feb. 24th, 2010 04:45 pm (UTC)
Hehe, great title :)

If I ever become a famous writer, my writing book will be called How to Write A Great Book, Like What I Did ;)
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Feb. 24th, 2010 04:47 pm (UTC)
I remember you posting about that last year. Have you read others since? If so, how does it compare.

The reason I ask is because, though I enjoyed it, to me it seemed more like an autobiography with some tips on writing in it, rather than your usual 'How to' guide.
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(no subject) - jongibbs - Feb. 24th, 2010 05:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 24th, 2010 02:48 pm (UTC)
When I decided to take a writing class his semester I took some xmas gift cards and went to Borders. I picked up The Gotham Writer's Workshop: Writing Fiction, The 3am Epiphany, and a grammar book. The assigned book for my class was The Writing Experiment.
Two months later I am pretty happy with the Gotham book, haven't touched epiphany, still put my commas in the wrong place, and find the writing experiment.... interesting for sparing creativity but not for much else.
Feb. 24th, 2010 02:49 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - jongibbs - Feb. 24th, 2010 04:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rayechu - Feb. 24th, 2010 07:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Feb. 24th, 2010 08:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 24th, 2010 02:52 pm (UTC)
I've listened to Stephen King's On writing, which had little real writing advice other than read a lot and write a lot. Brilliant as autobiographies go.
Feb. 24th, 2010 04:50 pm (UTC)
That was my take on it too.
Feb. 24th, 2010 02:54 pm (UTC)
Ha, that is a looooong time ago!

I was a member of a book club and they had a Phyliss A. Whitney two-pack. One book was about writing for adults the other about writing for children ( essentially they were the same book -- but they felt like magic ).

This was before I even knew they made books about how to write. I was very happy with that purchase for a long time.
Feb. 24th, 2010 04:52 pm (UTC)
I've read quite a few 'How to' books over the last few years. Some are better than others, but they're all worth a read, I think.
Feb. 24th, 2010 03:12 pm (UTC)
I had to giggle because I thought the book was by the other James Frey. My first writing book was Bird by Bird.
Feb. 24th, 2010 04:52 pm (UTC)
Yeah, poor guy. If I can summon up the nerve to ask him, I'd love to know if it affected his book sales :)
Feb. 24th, 2010 03:28 pm (UTC)
Bob McKee's Story Structure - afer his weekend seminar. Recommended if only for his turning the cliche about writing what you know on its head - know what you write about expressed as 'Know your world as well as God knows this one.'
Feb. 24th, 2010 04:54 pm (UTC)
That's interesting that you heard him speak first. When you read it, did you find yourself 'hearing' him talk?
(no subject) - martyn44 - Feb. 24th, 2010 06:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Feb. 24th, 2010 06:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - martyn44 - Feb. 24th, 2010 06:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Feb. 24th, 2010 08:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 24th, 2010 03:39 pm (UTC)
The first writing book I knowingly purchased once I became a serious writer was Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass, recommended to me by a friend.

But before that, I'd bought two books: Lapsing into a Comma by Bill Walsh and Words Fail Me by Patricia T. O'Conner. Fun little books that I still have around here somewhere.

Feb. 24th, 2010 04:56 pm (UTC)
If I could only have one book on writing, that would be it :)
Feb. 24th, 2010 03:48 pm (UTC)
Oddly, I think that Frey's book was the first writing book I ever read. This would be back when I was still green enough to think that every word I wrote was golden, all of my ideas were new and fresh, and there was no reason for me to be rejected. . . . I didn't get a lot out of reading his book. I'd probably get a lot more now, but I remember especially being annoyed at his concept of a premise because I couldn't imagine going into a book thinking, "Now the moral of the story is . . . " I still don't put it like that, and often the premise or theme is something that rises organically from the writing. I really should go back and re-read it.

I looked at the conference, since it is in my neck of the woods. I decided not to go -- I need to concentrate more on actually getting my work out there, rather than on spending more money at this point -- but I will keep an eye on them for future events.
Feb. 24th, 2010 04:59 pm (UTC)
Hehe, this latest read of it is the first time the penny dropped on the premise thing. It's not at all what I first thought :)

Are you planning to attend the next GSHW meet on March 13th, Erin?
(no subject) - abennettstrong - Feb. 24th, 2010 05:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Feb. 24th, 2010 05:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 24th, 2010 04:09 pm (UTC)
Stephen King's On Writing. - I'm not sure what I got from it, but I enjoyed reading it. I came away mostly thinking this guy uses his time more efficiently than any other human on earth.
Feb. 24th, 2010 05:00 pm (UTC)
King's other writing book, Danse Macabre, is pretty good too :)
Feb. 24th, 2010 04:32 pm (UTC)
Lawrence Block's, Telling Lies for Fun and Profit. I honestly can't remember any particular gems but it was practical, and entertaining.
Feb. 24th, 2010 05:00 pm (UTC)
That's a great book title :)
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Feb. 24th, 2010 05:34 pm (UTC)
What made you choose that over any other?
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(no subject) - jongibbs - Feb. 24th, 2010 06:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 24th, 2010 05:22 pm (UTC)
The Complete Guide to Editing Your Fiction by Michael Seidman
Feb. 24th, 2010 05:34 pm (UTC)
Did you find it useful?
Feb. 24th, 2010 05:54 pm (UTC)
Does The Chicago Manual of Style count?
Feb. 24th, 2010 06:02 pm (UTC)
I don't know. I guess it depends on how you rate fashion sense :P
(no subject) - mtlawson - Feb. 24th, 2010 06:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mtlawson - Feb. 24th, 2010 07:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Feb. 24th, 2010 07:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
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( 69 comments — Leave a comment )

Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there



Books by my writer friends - compressed

NJ Writing groups - compressed

NJ writing conference - compressed


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