Thanks very much for your contributions to last week’s coffee break; it was fascinating to read the various methods you used to develop your work. This week I’d like to find out what books, courses or writing resources have helped you and which you might like to recommend – or not – to other novel racers. I’ve listed a few of mine below.
1. A couple of years ago when I was getting really hung up about not being able to plot, I saved up quite a lot of money and went on Robert McKee’s Story seminar. It was the most extraordinary experience: Robert McKee is a master at holding his audience and I learned a lot about what makes a bad story even if I’m not always sure I’m writing a good one! Terrific writing, as Robert McKee I’m sure would agree, is as much about fairy dust as formula but this seminar certainly helped provide a framework, which made me feel more confident about how to structure a story. Robert McKee’s book ‘Story’ covers most of the material if you’re interested but can’t afford the three-day seminar.
2. Of all the How to Write books I’ve squandered money on, believing that this is the one which will tell me the secret of success, it’s Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ that I return to when I’m stuck. His no nonsense, no prisoner approach does, indeed, tell you what the secret is and hey, guess what? To become a writer first of all you have to write! Well, it does no harm to remind yourself of that when you’re tempted to clear out cupboards or wash the car instead!
3. Sorry guys, but the magazine that’s really worth its subscription for me is ‘Mslexia’. Okay, I know it’s specifically aimed at women but it’s a really useful source of writing information and I refer to back copies for years.
I feel a bit guilty about number 3 but hopefully the rest of you will have other ideas to redress the balance. I look forwards to reading them!