I’ve read plenty of “how to write” books focused on creativity and authorship – especially when I first started out and had no confidence. Overall, these guides have been…disappointing. I’ve wasted too much time on myopic, condescending garbage that got sent straight to library donation. I just can’t seem to throw a book away, even if it IS trash.
But! Bad books swept aside, I want to tell you about my favorite writing book. It’s called Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. I appreciate the Now Write! series because each book (divided by genre such as nonfiction or mystery) is a compilation of many different, expert voices. Instead of most “how to write” books, cobbled in an echo chamber by someone I’ve never heard of, the Now Write! series highlights the advice of many. Each author is given a short chapter to make their own. Even better, at the end of each chapter, that advice is worded into a practical writing exercise that you can try out with your own work. For example, in a chapter about scene construction, author Lilian Stewart Carl describes her own writing process with a beautiful paragraph from her own published work. She compares/contrasts her style with other authors such as Tolkien and Lovecraft, and then offers up an exercise to complete. Her chapter-lesson is only 3 pages, but every paragraph is immediately useful.