A few of our new volunteer readers are here to recommend their favorite craft books (alongside a recommendation from our editor-in-chief)! If you’ve been looking for help with voice or character or any number of craft techniques, look no further!
Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande
My favorite craft book is Dorothea Brande’s Becoming A Writer. Becoming A Writer is a wonderful book that does not only consider the technique aspect of writing, but also focuses on what it means to be a writer. In the first few chapters, Dorothea writes about the different kind of writers that there are, what writers are like; in the following chapters she tackles the topic of craft. One rare thing about Becoming A Writer is how it contains very plain and direct instructions on becoming a better writer. Brilliant tips that I haven’t found in any other book: on finding one’s voice, on harnessing the unconscious, on building a habit of writing. It’s a book I think every writer should read, especially new writers.
The Art of Character: Creating Memorable Characters for Fiction, Film, and TV by David Corbet
Creating a complex character with real, human-like qualities is a significant ingredient in how readers connect to a story. Corbett provides writers the tools to dig deeper into their protagonist by examining different traits, characteristics, desires, and relationships with secondary characters through examples and exercises. Passages about choosing a point of view, establishing voice, and writing dialogue are also helpful for development of the character and the story. This text gives writers of any prose genre the key to bringing a character to life.
The Writer’s Room by Charlotte Wood
The Writer’s Room is a series of interviews with twelve well-known Australian writers, conducted and compiled by prize-winning author Charlotte Wood. Each interview offers insights into the writer’s process, quirks and attitudes. Authors discuss rejections and failure along with acceptances and triumph. There is great wisdom in this book, such as (from Joan London): ‘Too much ambition can distract you from the work, or from the real nature of your material. It’s truth that matters…”
A Kite in the Wind: Fiction Writers on their Craft ed. by Andrea Barrett and Peter Turchi
A Kite in the Wind collects essays from 20 masters of fiction, who’ve all taught at some time or another in the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers: from Charles Baxter, to Debra Spark, to Anthony Doerr and Michael Martone. The essays are collected into four distinct parts: “Narrative Distance and Narrative Voice”, “Revealing Character”, “Seeing and Setting” and “Pattern and Shape”. It’s a wonderful resource for jumping in at any point, reading the essays collectively or individually. The collection is a tool for the writer wondering, as the editors put it in the introduction, “Isn’t there an easier way to do this?”