This Just In: Books On Writing

Five Newly-Arrived Titles from the Reference Section:

The 90-Day Novel: Unlock the Story Within – Alan Watt

Alan Watt wrote the first draft of his novel Diamond Dogs in just under 90 days, and later sold the North American rights for $500,000 to Little, Brown in a bidding war. The book became a national bestseller, won a slew of awards and is soon to be a major motion picture.

Get the first draft down quickly! The 90-Day Novel is a day-by-day guide through the process of getting the first draft of your novel onto the page. The 90-Day Novel was workshopped at LA Writers’ Lab over three years and has helped hundreds of writers complete their work. Some of Watt’s students have gone on to become bestselling authors and win major literary awards.

The 90-Day Novel is structured into three parts. Part One describes the process of getting your story from the imagination to the page and prepares you, through a few simple, powerful writing exercises to access the story within. Part Two is a series of 90 daily letters that will guide you through the hero’s journey. Writers often tend to get stuck halfway through, mired somewhere in their “idea” of the story. The 90-Day Novel will show you how and why you got stuck, and how to get to the end of your first draft. Part Three is a compendium of stream-of-consciousness writing exercises designed to help you access the primal forces in your story, as well as the Structure Questions that will invite up images at key stages in your hero’s journey.

The 90-Day Novel teaches you how to distill your plot to its nature, and clarifies the mysterious process of assembling vague disparate images into a coherent narrative. Working in this way, story structure (which is often taught as an intellectual construct or “formula”) becomes a springboard, setting you free to explore the far reaches of your imagination. “There are no rules,” Watt tells us. “Stay out of your left brain, and let your unconscious do the heavy lifting.” The 90-Day Novel clearly articulates the process of marrying the rigor of story structure to the wildness of the imagination and in the process reminds us of something we so often forget…that writing is actually fun. For more information on books, visit the90daynovel.com. For info on workshops, visit lawriterslab.com.

The Nighttime Novelist: Finish Your Novel in Your Spare Time – Joseph Bates

Franz Kafka was an insurance agent. William Faulkner was a postmaster. Stephen King taught high school English, John Grisham was an attorney, and Toni Morrison worked in publishing. Though romantic fantasies of the writing life don’t often include a day job, the fact is that most writers have one.

If you find yourself among them, stealing moments late at night, early in the morning, or on your lunch break to write, The Nighttime Novelist is your guide—on call any hour to help. Divided into quick mini lessons to make the most of your precious writing time, this book offers:

  • Technique instruction that breaks down the elements of the novel—from crafting your protagonist to successful plotting and pacing
  • Hurdle lessons that help you anticipate and overcome roadblocks, so you can keep your productivity and your story on track
  • Going Deeper explorations that provide guidance on the more nuanced aspects of storytelling, so you can take your work to the next level
  • Try It Out assignments and more than 25 interactive worksheets that help you apply the lessons to your own project

Whether you’re just beginning your novel, wondering how to navigate its middle, or bringing it to a close, you’ll find the instruction, exercises, and support you need to keep your story moving forward every time you sit down to write.

45 Master Characters: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters – Victoria Lynn Schmidt

ant to make your characters and their stories more compelling, complex, and original than ever before? 45 Master Characters is here to help you explore the most common male and female archetypes–the mythic, cross-cultural models from which all characters originate.

  • Explore a wide variety of character profiles including heroes, villains, and supporting characters.
  • Learn how to use archetypes as foundations for your own unique characters
  • Examine the mythic journeys of heroes and heroines–the progression of events upon which each archetype’s character arc develops–and learn how to use them to enhance your story.

Complete with examples culled from literature, television, and film, 45 Master Characters illustrates just how memorable and effective these archetypes can be–from “Gladiators” and “Kings” like Rocky Balboa and Captain Ahab to “Amazons” and “Maidens” like Wonder Woman and Guinevere. Great heroes and villains are necessary to bring any story to life; let this guide help you create characters that stand the test of time.

The Writer’s Idea Book: How to Develop Great Ideas for Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, & Screenplays – Jack Heffron

Where do you get your ideas?

It’s a question that plagues every writer. And once you’ve got an idea, what then? Ideas without a plan, without a purpose, are no more than pleasant thoughts. So how do you come up with those ideas, and how do you turn them into writing that will engage your reader?

The Writer’s Idea Book is here to help you find the answers. Utilizing more than 400 prompts and exercises, you’ll generate intriguing ideas and plumb their possibilities to turn them into something amazing. This indispensable guide will help you:

  • Develop good writing habits that foster creativity
  • Explore your own life for writing material
  • Draw inspiration from the world around you
  • Find form for your ideas, develop them into a piece of writing, and make them better

Let The Writer’s Idea Book give you the insight and self-awareness to create and refine ideas that demand to be transformed into greater works, the kind of compelling, absorbing writing that will have other writers asking “where do you get your ideas?”

The Writer’s Compass: From Story Map to Finished Draft in 7 Stages – Nancy Ellen Dodd

This book will show writers how to develop their ideas into a finished novel by working through it in 7 stages, while learning how to mapping out their story’s progress and structure so they can evaluate and improve their work. It teaches writers to visualize their story’s progress with a story map that helps them see all the different components of their story, where these components are going, and, perhaps most importantly, what’s missing. The book simplifies Aristotle’s elements of good writing (a.k.a. that each story should have a beginning, a middle and an end) into easily applicable concepts that will help writers improve their craft. The author helps readers strengthen their work by teaching them how to focus on one aspect of their story at a time, including forming stories and developing ideas, building strong structures, creating vibrant characters, and structuring scenes and transitions. Thought-provoking questions help writers more objectively assess their story’s strengths and weaknesses so they may write the story they want to tell.