Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Summer Reading

Summer is a great time for reading. I love sitting outside, immersed in a wonderful novel or a nonfiction book (maybe a book on the craft of writing), with a glass of lemonade on a sunny day.

I recently finished two books on writing that will end up on the top of my desk, where I keep my favorite books on craft (meaning within reach). Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft, by Janet Burroway, Elizabeth Stuckey-French, and Ned Stuckey-French was recommended to me at a Highlights novel workshop. The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, by Christopher Vogler was a gift from a well-published author who said this book changed his fictional writing life for the better.

Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft is considered a textbook, so be warned--it is a bit pricey. Still, I’m glad I bought it. The text outlines the writing process, including discussions on finding the right details, characterization, fictional time and place, story structure, point of view, and (of course) the process of revision. Short stories and writing exercises at the end of each chapter highlight and reinforce the lessons discussed.

A sure sign of how helpful I find a book is how much I highlight the text and dog-ear the pages. My copy of Writing Fiction is tattooed in purple highlighter and sports many bent corners. It’s a good thing that I didn’t borrow my copy from the library.

The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers explores the relationship between mythology and storytelling. This book focuses on screenwriting as well as novels. According to Christopher Vogler, "all stories consist of a few common structural elements found universally in myths, fairy tales, dreams, and movies." Agree or disagree, this book provides a lot of helpful and thought-provoking information for fiction writing, which probably explains why it is an international bestseller. The text discusses the story journey and its stages, which include archetype characters and the various points of the journey from beginning to end. 

Yes, I highlighted the text of The Writer’s Journey as much as I highlighted Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft. I also dog-earred lots of pages.

Have you read either or both of these books? Have you read any books on the craft of writing that you’d recommend? Anything that goes with sunshine and lemonade?

Happy July 4th!