Thursday, May 08, 2008

Booking Through Thursday meme

Interesting question today from Booking Through Thursday:

Writing guides, grammar books, punctuation how-tos . . . do you read them? Not read them? How many writing books, grammar books, dictionaries–if any–do you have in your library?


At work, I've got the company style guide, and that's about it. At home, I don't have any of that stuff. I've got a dictionary and thesaurus, but more often than not I'll look up a word in an online dictionary (since I do my writing on my laptop, and not by hand).

In terms of writing books, I've got Robert McKee's Story (which is alternately quite good and throw-across-the-room maddening), a copy of The Artist's Way which I got about halfway through, and Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, which I loved.

I came to fiction writing quite late, comparatively (after I turned 30), and I tend to be the type of person who wants to try something first rather than read about it (I'm the classic push a lot of buttons and click a lot of windows rather than read the instruction manual) so I like to try to figure it out myself.

I've always had a good instinct for grammar and punctuation, and I want to continue to improve my craft by reading other fiction and actually writing, so I just don't have a lot of these kinds of books (save the Lamott, which was about a lot more than writing).

3 comments:

  1. I have a specific shelf for writing books, but there's not much on it. Most of them tend to be more about self-psychology than actual writing -- The Artist's Way, the Lamott books, etc -- more like "You're allowed to let yourself be creative" than "Here is how to construct a narrative." Know what I mean? I did go through a phase where I bought some "craft" books, but when I read them they were full of stuff I already knew. I'm over that. I use reference books for spot checks: one dictionary, one thesaurus, one grammar rulebook, and one book of baby names. But mostly I go on instinct, learning from what I read and what my gut tells me. A book can help you learn rules so you can break them, but it can't make you a good writer.

    ReplyDelete
  2. more like "You're allowed to let yourself be creative" than "Here is how to construct a narrative." Know what I mean?

    Yes, yes, exactly!

    But mostly I go on instinct, learning from what I read and what my gut tells me. A book can help you learn rules so you can break them, but it can't make you a good writer.

    Yes, that's it, exactly.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I did that "writing guides" thing at first, reading On Writing by Stephen King and Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott. I actually though that inside one of these books would be the magic bullet or the key to writing. It's not there.

    On top of that I only have a finite amount of free time. Reading about writing seems counterproductive to me. It's nice for the beginner, but I learn far more from reading fiction.

    Good question!

    ReplyDelete