Remember when we were all in school and at the end of every year we were given a summer reading list by next year’s English teacher? I was the dorky kid who actually liked getting that list because reading was, and still is, my favorite thing to do – during any season.
For the past two summers I’ve started up that summer reading list again for myself, but it’s not filled with literary classics, or modern contemporary fiction. My reading lists now are filled with “how to” books or what I like to call the refresher series. Those books that I read, every now and again, to remind me of the craft I love. The books that remind me how to “show,not tell,” the power of strong words not adverbs, the structure in plotting books, the dialogue helping books, and the general this is how you do it for “dummies” books.
Writing is a craft, an art, a talent, and a career. Like any career, you must learn the basics, the tools, and the procedures to be an effective worker. Sometimes, when I am lost in the throws of writing ecstasy, I tend to forget the rules and just write what is in my head. When I edit, I remember the reason I should get rid of that “ly” word and replace it with a stronger one, the reason why saying “he thought” is probably redundant, and the reason saying “she turned her gaze..” instead of ” she turned her eyes..” is a better descriptor.
My crafting books are helpful in allowing me to remember the power of plotting, and how to do it so to reach a maximum of writing force. Plot structure, scene structure, and point of view refreshers are all helpful when I edit, and re-reading the basics of how to do each has benefited my writing enormously.
I love dialogue, probably because I love talking so much in real life. My dialogue refresher books are always helpful, especially when they help me find two words that will take the place of twenty.
Summer reading lists. Not just for kids, anymore.
Some of my favorite re-reads:
Plot and Structure, James Scott Bell
Showing and Telling, Laurie Alberts
Writing for Emotional Impact, Karl Iglesias
The Emotional Thesaurus, Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
G.M.C., Debra Dixon
Character Traits, Linda N. Edlestein, Ph.D