Thanks to those readers who provided feedback on my last blog article on Books on Writing. Your feedback has resulted in a few additions to the list in the original article. These books probably shouldn’t have been overlooked I the first article. If you’ve got any more, let me know.
I’d particularly endorse Lee Kofman’s book. There aren’t a huge number of books on this topic from an Australian perspective, but this one is a cracker.
Lee Kofman. ‘The Writer Laid Bare: Emotional honesty in a writer's art, craft and life’.
This is a book for voracious readers who want to get additional depth from what they read, emerging authors through to best-selling authors who want to refresh their perspective.
Lee is the author of six books, including creative nonfiction works. She has won or been shortlisted for many awards including ABIA in 2020. Her works have been published internationally including in UK, Israel, Canada and US.
‘The Writer Laid Bare’ is part textbook part memoir, presented with real practicality and honesty. The book is also extensively referenced and provides a list of suggested reading - to make you a better writer.
Thanks to Andie, Cassie and Warren
James Scott Bell. ‘Just Write: Creating Unforgettable Fiction and a Rewarding Writing Life.’
Thanks to Emma and Tricia for lobbying to have this one included. The title says it all. What more could an aspiring writer require but producing unforgettable fiction and a rewarding life. The book starts with a simple, but often overlook perspective check – assessing if there is indeed a market for what you produce. I’m sure that many writers don’t consider the potential market – but they should. Producing a book is a lot of work and while there may be many rewards for writing (see my earlier Blog ‘Why I Write’, October 2022) a huge reward is finding that people actual want to read your book.
This book is written by a writing coach, as opposed to many in my list who are authors. This distils the learning process to the essentials. Bell says ‘you'll learn how to master the nuances of fiction, discover what readers really want, and persevere through the challenges of getting started, conquering writer's block, and dealing with rejection’. If he delivers on half of this (which he does) it is a worthy inclusion to my list and yours.
Ursula K. Le Guin. ‘Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew.’
I have to confess I did not know of Ursula K. Le Guin until quite recently. Little did I know that she is one of the best Science Fiction (SF) writers and undeniably the most successful woman science fiction writers of all time (especially as Margret Attwood claims that she isn’t a writer of science fiction). My only excuse is that although my day job is in science, I am not a big consumer of the SF genre.
Le Guin has published an impressive twenty-two novels, eleven volumes of short stories, four collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry and four of translation, and has received multiple awards including: Hugo, Nebula, National Book Award, PEN-Malamud, etc. This impressive list only makes me more embarrassed of my ignorance.
I am told (as I haven’t received my copy of this one yet) that her advice is concise, direct and totally applicable.
Thanks to Geoff and Spencer for putting me onto this one.
Book cover images courtesy of Goodreads