Friday, December 11, 2009

Story Structure Architect

Looking for the perfect gift for the novelist on your list? Look no further....Story Structure Architect by Schmidt is perfect.

THis book's tagline is "a writer's guide to building dramatic situations & compelling characters"...and boy, does it deliver.

A friend gave me this book a couple of years ago, and I've highlighted my way through it, finding myself going back to it time and again. Why? Because it's that good.

Broken into four parts, the book takes you from drafting a plan for your book, to building the structure, to adding stories, and concluding with finishing touches. Over 55 situation examples are offered, giving you plenty of opportunity to learn and grow as you move through the exercises.

This book is a definite keeper for every novelist at every level, writing in every genre.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Baby Name Survey Book

It's a question every novelist will ask...what to name a character. Authors want names that will fit into the ethnic background of the character they've created, but selecting a character's name is as important as selecting your child's name. Enter this book...

The Baby Name Survey Book by Lansky & Sinrod.

Not only does it give each name's origin, it also gives the description of what people imagine when they hear the name. Pretty cool, huh? Let's see....

Looked up my name in the book. Here's what it states:
ROBIN, Robyn (Old English); forms of Roberta
IMAGE: Though the name is often used for boys, a girl named Robin is described as petite, pretty, talented, interesting, and snobby.
Famous Robins: comic actor Robin Williams; legendary hero Robin Hood; robin redbreast, the bird; actresses Robyn Douglass, Robin Givens

Pretty slick, eh?

I use this book on naming every character in every book I write. Names are important...shouldn't you know what people think when they hear the name?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

What Would Your Character Do?

Know a writer who's struggling with creating masterful characters? Is it you? Here's a book I recently discovered that truly helped me get to know my characters on the deepest level possible.

What Would Your Character Do? by Maisel & Maisel, published by Writer's Digest Books.

This book is full of quizzes to help authors understand who and why the characters are. You can also find out how to deepen each scene using psychological insight into the character.

For the writer on your Christmas list, this book will be pulled off the shelf again and again. Excellent resource book to make lively, 3-D characters who'll come alive on the page!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Snowflake Pro Software

So there's a writer in your life that you want to get the ideal present for them for Christmas? Not sure what writing books they already have/need/want? Do I have the gift for you!

Snowflake Pro

Most writers have heard of Randy Ingermanson's snowflake method of planning, plotting, and proposing a novel. For more details (and to purchase) visit this site.

Now, for my review:

What an excellent tool! I have to admit, I've heard Randy explain his snowflake method many times (and he's so patient in explaining it to me--over and over again) but I guess I'm just a hard-head. I could see his examples, everything he said made perfect sense, but I just couldn't apply the method to my own writing.

Enter the Snowflake Pro software. WOW, what a difference. With its easy download and installment (complete with detailed instructions for poor techno-challenged people like myself), I was up and running in less than ten minutes. And it's SO EASY to use. There's even this nice little button at the bottom where you can listen to audio explanations. (I'm sure Randy put this feature in for confused people like myself! lol) For years, I've done character charts by hand because that's how I think clearest when interviewing my characters. The software system is so easy to use, my 9 year old daughter took my handwritten notes and loaded everything into the software program. With a click of a button, I had the wealth of information on everything about my characters, the story, the scene my fingertips. All with just a click of a button!

I will be using the Snowflake Pro system from here on out on every book! I give this software my highest rating--a must-have for every writer!

Again, to learn more about the program and order, visit this site! Makes an excellent Christmas gift!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Writing the Breakout Novel WORKBOOK

Looking for a great gift for the novelist on your Christmas list? Check out Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass.

I'd read Maass' book, Writing the Breakout Novel, and while it was packed with a wealth of information for writers, I couldn't "apply" the concepts to my own writing. But then someone suggested I get the workbook. I was skeptical--after all, if I'd read the novel and couldn't put it to use, what would a workbook on the novel do for me? But, respecting the author who'd made the suggestion, and knowing the book had presented great information, I got the workbook. I wasn't disappointed.

I was easily able to take the exercises Maass provides in the workbook and apply it instantly to my own writing. These exercises, with detailed instructions on how and why to do so, helped me go deeper into my characters and story, assisting me in producing a much better concept, which improved my story.

This is definitely a must-read for writers across all levels--beginning, intermediate, multi-published....the information and presentation can change their writing.

Friday, December 04, 2009

The Art of War for Writers

Wondering what to get the author or aspiring writer for Christmas? From now until Christmas Eve, I'll be posting up reviews of some writing books that I use over and over again. Great gift ideas.

And so on to the first....
The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell

When I saw the size of the book, in comparison to Bell's previous craft books (Plot & Structure and Revision & Self-Editing) I thought to myself, hmm, small book. But once I opened it and began reading, I realized how much vital information is packed into the pages. I devoured the book in one sitting and highlighted MANY pages. Matter of fact, the book now looks like it's multi-colored with all my different highlighting. This will definitely be a book I refer to again and again.

Bell breaks The Art of War for Writers into sections, then parts inside those sections. It is my belief that every author, at every level, and every aspiring author should consider Bell's first section of the book (Reconnaissance) should consider this mandatory reading. With Bell's no-nonsense style, combined with wit that had me chuckling aloud, the information provided is true and accurate of the writer's life overall. I wish I'd had this section to read years ago.

The second section of the book (Tactics)covers the overview of actual writing. Great exercise suggestions are provided as well as a wealth of information to help writers improve their craft and skill. Bell uses his own experiences to drive home the points, as if he were sitting across the table from you and sharing his expertise with you.

The last section of the book (Strategy) provides key suggestions/information on the career of the author. His part on proposals had me nodding my head in agreement as I read.

Overall, I have to give The Art of War for Writers my highest recommendation. This is a definite one to put on your wish list! And the size of the book? Well, made it easier to hold and it slips nicely into a laptop case/bag/backpack!

Happy Reading!