Friday, March 30, 2012

2 How-Tos

The cover art for The Story Within ~ New Insights and Inspiration for Writers by Laura Oliver convinced me to pick it up, and I thought it was a pretty interesting read. It has a bit of a rocky start, but once you get past that there's much info to peruse. The author has a solid teaching voice but never drones on and on or gets too boring; I actually read the whole thing cover to cover. Few of the problems I find specific to writing genre were addressed, but I never once felt like the author was spitting on me, so it may be of use to someone who likes the lit stuff. And yes, she definitely has a literary attitude, but she's not obnoxious about it. If you're looking to beautify your writing, get more down-in-the-dirt honest, or explore your secret memoirist/creative nonfic/literary side, then this is could be the right how-to book for you.

Bonnie Neubauer's Take Ten for Writers has my vote for the book you should give that writer friend (or yourself) when they're/you're stuck for ideas, strangled by writer's block or otherwise not producing. I test-drove this one by working through a couple of the exercises, and they do take only ten minutes, and you do come up with some new ideas. The instructions on how to use the book are a little overly-complicated -- the user blindly picks a number between 1 and 10 and that choice decides the subject of the exercise -- which may initially discourage, but it's worth plowing through to get to the writing challenges. As with her Write-Brain Workbook the author incorporates lots of interesting photos, graphics and other visual special effects to keep the content lively. The thing I like best about this author's how-to books is that they're fun and serious at the same time, and this one is as entertaining as it is useful, so you don't feel like you're exercising the muse.

I'd like to pass my copies along to another writer (both have been read once but are in pristine condition), so if you're interested in comments to this post name which book you'd like to win, along with another writing how-to book you find useful (or if you can't think of one, just toss your name in the hat) by midnight EST tonight, March 30th, 2012. I'll draw two name from everyone who participates, and send the winners their choice of either Laura Oliver's The Story Within or Bonnie Neubauer's Take Ten for Writers, along with a surprise. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.


  1. Take Ten for Writers sounds interesting... if I don't win, I think I'll have to order one for myself.

    Writing books I'm finding useful at the moment: Page After Page and Chapter After Chapter by Heather Sellers. Randomly picked up one of them at the library, later decided that they needed to both come live at my house.

  2. Oooohh, I'd like the Take Ten for Writers.

    I'm currently reading "The Writer's Workout" by Christina Katz. One of the chapters, a page for each day of the year, suggests that writers, no matter the genre, create a mission statement based on why I write and what do I want to get out of it. Something that I'm still thinking about.

  3. Ohh, both books sound very interesting! I think I'd like to go with... Take Ten for Writers though; I usually always suffer from a kind of writer's block.
    And to be honest, I don't have a book in mind for how to books on writing...

  4. I too am interested in Take Ten for Writers. I am so blocked right now and it is starting to wear on my sanity. I like to turn to Natalie Goldberg's "Wildmind" when I need a good book on writing. In fact, maybe I will go find my copy today and see if I can't get inspired out of my slump. Thanks for the post!

  5. I'd like to read both but The Story Within looks very interesting. My favorite writing book still has to be Stephen King's. My copy is battered!

  6. I have decided that when I have my own house (or some how figure out how to create more shelf-space in my bedroom) I am going to designate a shelf to how-to and other such writing books only. It will be grand and I will always be able to solve my writerly problems with my vast amount of resources.

  7. Take Ten sounds really good to me.

    My favorite writing book - Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon. Very hard to come by and I'm never letting my copy out of my hands.

  8. The Story Within suonds helpful and worthwhile. This is a great giveaway and practical. Thanks.

  9. Riley Jo11:32 AM

    I would be happy with either book.

    Natalie Goldberg's "Writing Down the Bones" is a good one and I have recommended it to some of my friends. I continue to use it when I need a little boost in my own process. :)

  10. Take Ten would be my choice.

    Two of my favs: On Writing, by Stephen King is well-used; and an older book that I've had for years is Words Fail Me, by Patricia O'Connoer.

  11. Take Ten sounds more interesting to me and, for writing books, I liked Stephen King's On Writing. I don't read King because I don't like horror, but I did appreciated how he defended genre and took offense to not getting questions they ask of literary writers when he does talks -- about word choice and imagery. Like genre writers don't also struggle over turns of phrases.

    And because I read regularly but comment randomly, I'm glad you liked Barry Hughart. I like that series so much I'm always amazed at how few people seem to know about it.

    1. Both sound interesting, Take Ten for Writers sounds more like my sort of book, but if I had to choose I'd pick The Story Within and pass it on to my daughter who also writes since that seems more of a match for her.

  12. They both sound good. But between these two, I'd probably use the Story Within more.
    I have a lot of favorite writing books. Donald Maass' Fire in the Fiction is probably the most popular one I like.
    For Grammar I often use "Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies!" by June Casagrande.
    For a little bit of everything, especially things to avoid if you want to increase your chances of getting an agent/editor: Thanks, But This Isn't for Us: A (Sort of) Compassionate Guide to Why Your Writing is Being Rejected by Jessica Page Morrell

  13. Anonymous3:12 PM

    I'd pick The Story Within ~ New Insights and Inspiration for Writers.

    One of my favorites is Story Engineering by Larry Brooks.


  14. Anonymous3:34 PM

    I follow your post everyday. You post a lot a usefull and helpful stuff. I like The Story Within because we all have a story within us that is dying to get out

  15. "The Story Within" sounds intriguing! One of my fave writing books is "Techniques of the Selling Writer" by Dwight Swain. It's a classic : )

  16. The Take Ten book looks really interesting! One really good book i know is The Positively Productive Writer by Simon Whaley. I've taken his course on the subject and he is really good at engaging you and changing your view points on how you work and how to be productive.

  17. I would very much like to win Take Ten, and I like Drawing on the Write Side of the Brain. :)

  18. I'm digging "The Story Within." Put my name in the hat please! :D