Aim High & Read a Lot of Books

As far as my novel goes, I started draft 2 at the end of May, and I’m still not done. So, now, I’m just over 60k words, and I’m coming up on the part from the first draft that didn’t really work. If I really buckle down, though, I could finish it in October, so that’s what I’m going to shoot for. Watch for updates on my social media!

Meanwhile, I’m trying not to feel too discouraged by my snail’s pace in the past few months by reminding myself of how much I’ve learned as I’ve worked on draft 2. I’ve really stepped up the knowledge quest in hopes that I’ll incorporate new skills as I go and have even less to work through on draft 3.

While I’ve pretty much checked out all the writing books my local library system has on the shelves, I’ve ended up purchasing quite a few of those so I can write in them, flag sections, and in general use them for reference. Read on for three of my favorites!

Revision and Self-Editing for Publication 2nd Edition by James Scott Bell

Revision and Self-Editing for Publication (2nd Ed) by James Scott Bell is my favorite so far, and also the only one that I’ve read every bit of at least once, but some sections more than that. It’s a Writer’s Digest book, and it has lots of good exercises, a great voice and tone, and entertaining examples, too. Even though it sounds like it’s just for referring to once you have a complete first draft, the first half of the book actually focuses on getting the first draft done. I highly recommend it!

Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark

Writing Tools is great, but to be honest, this book’s offerings aren’t much different from the exercises and advice in Revision. I don’t mind – I figure reading things that are put in a slightly different way with different exercises and examples will only help cement all this stuff until using it all just comes naturally. Even though this one isn’t as engaging, it has the advantage of presenting the knowledge in small chunks that are easy to get through on a limited time budget.

Description by Monica Wood

Another Writer’s Digest book, Description by Monica Wood was a fun and enlightening read that I spent a lot of time with earlier in the year. I feel like my second draft has already developed richer layers thanks to the guidance I got here. Plus, I just really enjoyed reading it. From the back of the book:

“Description is most powerful when it’s visible, aural, tactile. Make your descriptions fresh and they’ll move your story forward, imbue your work with atmosphere, create that tang of feeling that editors cry for and readers crave. Monica Wood helps you squeeze the greatest flavor from the language…You’ll find dos and don’ts, lists of descriptive alternatives to common verbs and nouns, and tips for editing your work.”

I’ll be finishing a couple more that I want to post soon, too. Stay tuned!

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