Posts from the ‘Helpful Books’ Category

Writing Picture Books

I recently completed a writer’s course by correspondence and one of the books I enjoyed was “Writing Picture Books, A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication” by Ann Whitford Paul. The title says it all – hands on. The book is well designed and user friendly. There are short paragraphs of text with a heading that makes the book easy to reference and each chapter ends with exercises. The book takes you through the whole writing process including the process before you begin to write. One of the sections I found the most interesting involved different formats in which to write your book, for example as a series of letters back and forth or as a journal. I liked the way that this book made me think about different ways that books could be written and how to come up with ideas, for example, one of the exercises in the book is to observe something and Ms. Whitford Paul gives the example of describing your shoe. While this might seem like a mundane object, if you think about it, a shoe could have major importance in a story – after all Cinderella lost hers and it was the only clue that the prince had to find her. Shoes leave distinct prints, shoes sound different. Where I work at a senior’s home, residents often say that they know when I’m coming down the hallway because of the clickity click sound of my high heeled shoes.   The book also asks questions which are helpful like “Does your book…” The use of you speaks to me the writer and I wonder does my book have this, or could I try this. This book gives good advice for any writer about the writing process. While it is geared to children’s books, understanding the writing process, story structure, good word choices and how to edit or get published is essential for all writers. The book’s use of examples, clear language and friendly style makes it a treasured reference on my bookshelf. It is also a quick read and its format makes you want to keep reading it. This is a great quality for a writing book because in order to complete the whole process, you need to know what to do and if you cannot bear to read the book, how are you ever going to get to the writing process.

What a Novel Idea

When we ask a question like, “What inspires you to write?” we are laying out the premise that writers need inspiration. In a perfect world, writers would always write what they want, how they want with no sweat, tears, or extra nudging involved. I’m not meaning to draw a completely bleak picture of the writing life, but I think any writer will understand me when I say sometimes writing is just plain hard.Anything worth having is difficult, right? Still, as writers we all should have something to lean on – something to go do when the big old Block sets in and we need a boost.

For me, that boost has often come from a book called A Novel Idea. In the three and a half years since I received it, it’s done wonders for me. It’s written by large group of established authors, including Jerry B. Jenkins, Francine Rivers, and Karen Kingsbury. I’m not trying to completely play favorites, but Karen Kingsbury is one of my writing heros. And I get to take writing advice from her –  a New York Times bestselling author. Needless to say, they all know what they’re talking about.

Every page has been invaluable to me. The plot and pacing advice on the beginning has helped me start two large manuscripts so far. The character advice was wonderful, also. It provides tips on how to really getting to know your characters, including setting up an interview with them. There is one specific page that I’ve gone to a dozen times. (Page 171, if you have the book and want to know.) It deals with having a good kind of tunnel vision and it has often prodded me to do what I ought to and write.

“We must work hard and we must pray, believing that God is taking our writing to the place where he alone can showcase it. … The world will rev its engines and honk at us. We will at times be distracted, discouraged, defeated, and depressed. … Never mind the world’s distractions. We are writers, and we must stay the course. We must be hardworking and hopeful. We must write.”

Guess who wrote that? Karen Kingsbury.

I’ve sat there before and tried to argue with her. I mean, of course writers must write. How obvious does her advice have to be? Then I stop arguing, first because she’s right, and second because I feel self-conscious debating with a book. Then I get up off the couch and start typing.

Challenge of the day: find what gets you off the couch.

What Blogs/Books/Groups Inspire You?

Have you ever read a blog that inspired you to go write right away without procrastinating anymore?

Have you ever read a book that truly helped you become a better writer?

Are you in a writing group that has nurtured you through the writing process?

Rebecca, Felicity and I will all be posting about our favorite book, blog or group that has helped us in some way, whether it is our go-to place for stimulating creativity or a book where every chapter has a bit of encouragement to go along with helpful writing advice.

What is your favorite blog/website/book for writing? Is there a specific post that you go back to when you are frustrated with writing? Do you have a book that you can read again and again and learn something new every time?

We would love to hear about a book or blog or source of inspiration in the comments below!

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