jordanrosenfeld

The Best Writing Book You Never Found

In Business of Writing on December 5, 2008 at 5:45 pm

So here’s a quick question for you: Is there a writing book you wish you had? One that you haven’t found that answers questions or explains craft elements? This would be the perfect book of answers to your writing conundrums.

What “is” that book? What would it reveal to you, and how? Answer here in the comments.

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  1. Do you remember Natalie Goldberg’s book, Writing Down the Bones? Every time I read a single sentence of her book I’d have 20 new ideas. Wonderful stuff. But what it inspired was mood, memory, little moments. I want a book that is equally inspirational but helps you create a magnificent plot or outline. Something that helps you find the plot by tapping some urgent sense of conflict and then guiding you through how to create a magic and compelling shape for your book.

    • Ooh, that’s a great idea, Susan. A stimulating plot-finder book. I love Natalie Goldberg–have you read “Thunder and Lightning”? It’s even better.

      J

  2. I have a book called Make A Scene by Jordan Rosenfeld that really delves into the plotting side of story making and breaks down scenes with astonishing detail and examples. I know I sound nice recommending this book that you wrote, Jordan, but I truly admire how you’ve dissected the elements–i.e. functions of a scene, launches, middles, endings, dialogue scenes, action scenes, flashback scenes, multiple points of view, secondary and minor characters, scene transitions. The list is comprehensive. A terrific resource!

  3. I think I’ll go get both of those books right now…

  4. Hi Jordan,

    uuummm for me something on rhythm, beat, pacing. I want writing that sings. How to transform clunky sentences into sentences that pop.

    • Well there’s a good book that can certainly help with sentences called “Getting the Words Right” by Theodore Rees Cheney…It’s probably not quite what you have in mind, but it’s still a worthy book.

  5. I’ll give it a try. But so far every book I’ve found on the subject just seems to fall short.

  6. Maybe this idea is more for an article than a book, but the management of information, which characters knows what and when (and this would involve point of view stuff as well), is an element of fiction that isn’t much discussed. This sounds more genre-ish, but it’s also true of literary fiction.

  7. The book that would have helped me when I started writing is something that gives macro information about the “big rocks.”

    A lot of writing books tend to give too much philosophy and too few concrete examples. For example, what I mean is a book provides info about the major technical areas: plot (upbeat-ending pattern vs. downbeat-ending pattern), structure, scenes, third-person limited point of view, etc in five or six neat chapters. I would like a concrete book that provides the bare minimum you need to know about technique (craft).

    I’d also like a checklist at the end of this book about what to look for when editing your own work.

    Just to explain why I suggest such a book…
    It took me years to understand that a novel is a sequence of scenes. To be honest, despite reading about 30 books on writing fiction, taking creative writing classes in college, and going to workshops, I never got that concept until I read your excellent book, Jordan. I’d read so much about plot and storyline and dialog that I couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

  8. Hi Jordan,
    A really really good, in depth book on line by line editing, something you might get from a professional editing service. Something that explains how to distance yourself from your writing to edit it and see the holes.

    Also, one that helps with structuring novels, especially if they have multiple points of view (so often given as a no-no in other books.
    Todd

  9. The Marshall Plan by Evan Marshall does a good job of showing you how to structure a novel with multiple view points.

    I agree with SarahV and theexile a checklist for what to look for when editing and an indepth book on line by line editing.

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