Monday, November 12, 2012


Guiding writers.

So what's on your writer's reference shelf? No matter what stage your publishing career is at, I'll bet there are at least one or two writer's guides you've read over the years and now keep close at hand.

I'm also sure that most writers have at one time or other, consulted part of the Writer's digest Books enormous selection, whether it be a book on Dialogue by Lewis Turco, Theme & Strategy by Ronald B. Tobias, or Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card or perhaps one of their Howdunit series about cause of death, poisons, or weapons.

My most valued writing guides are divided into two groups -- those that work on improving writing skills and those that provide inspiration. Of the latter, bird by bird by Anne Lamott is one that I often pick up, partly because I love her writing style but mostly because it challenges me to look at this task of writing in a different way. And from a different creative path, there's dancer Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit, with practical suggestions for getting the creative juices flowing.

For a mystery writer, Barbara Norville's Writing the Modern Mystery is ageless and has indeed seen many re-prints as it gets down to basics. My all-time favourite "how-to" book is Writing Mysteries by Margaret Locke, sadly out-of-print now. I used it as a primary reference when we were teaching mystery writing classes at night school.

Then there are the technical guides, indispensable for mystery and crime writers. Books like The Forensic Casebook by N.E Genge, The Criminal Mind by Katherine Ramsland, and Be Your Own Detective by Greg Fallis and Ruth Greenberg.

On writing in general, there's the often-quoted Christopher Vogler book, The Writer's Journey, sitting on my shelf to be re-read from time to time.

There are more...many more which is party of the reason my house has so many bookcases. These are the silent critique group, ready to point out flaws and suggest alternatives.

So, what's on your writer's reference shelf?

Linda Wiken/Erika Chase

Berkley Prime Crime, now available
READ and BURIED, coming Dec., 2012, available for pre-order

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