[Note: This post is a roundup of the monthly series on writing how-to books thus far, for those who might just be coming to this or who might have missed previous installments.]
In the last six months since I began this series of books/sources that have taught me to be a better writer, I have also begun rereading some of these books from my shelves. It has been a rather interesting experience to find more nuance, discover details I had missed the first time around, and see how much of the advice within I have actually applied versus not and why.
Before I do a quick recap of the various themes covered so far, let’s talk briefly about the general kinds of writing how-to books out there. For the most part, they tend to fit into one of these three categories:
1/ Grammar and structure how-to
2/ Craft techniques and writing styles how-to
3/ The inner game of becoming/being a writer
[Confession: I am not a big fan of the third kind because I think that becoming/being a writer comes from actually writing regularly. That said, I can understand why such books might help others as I went through a brief phase of reading them myself. And, to tell the truth, I still sometimes dip into them randomly for the odd inspiring sentence or paragraph. I will probably share a roundup post of the ones on my shelves in the near future.]
There are a few more categories of books that I have included in this series though they would not be typically found in the writing how-to shelves of a library or bookshop. These are:
4/ Personal writings of writers — e.g. letters, journals, memoirs, and autobiographies. These are treasure chests of writerly advice, lessons learned through experience, and often help with that inner game of becoming/being a writer rather well too.
5/ Literary criticism — I am not referring to scholarly/academic books but the more accessible essay collections and non-pedagogical studies targeted to general readers rather than only to students of literature. These have helped me to become both a better reader and a better writer.
6/ Miscellaneous — Biographies of writers, interviews with writers, bibliomemoirs, etc. These generally have some or all aspects of all of the above categories in them.
Here’s a quick recap of what we’ve covered so far:
Coming up next year, we will dive into books on these topics: writing styles; character creation; literary criticism; non-academic studies of certain writers/books; writing exercises; and a whole lot more.
Till then, happy reading and writing, y’all.