Book Night: some writing books I haven’t read…yet…

March 7, 2011 § 10 Comments

My library still doesn’t have coffee and I still NEED coffee when browsing books sometimes (often) so rather than heading to the local branch, we stole 40 minutes at B&N this afternoon.

And rather than being completely indulgent and reading writing-centric magazines, I decided to do a little “research” in the “writing” hard-cover section (also known as “reference”).

And saw these books and paged through them, just to see what was what….I read a few pages in each and made some very snap judgements in regard to each. While overall snap judgements are unkind, in the case of some books, I thought it might be ok and it is NOT directed at the authors, merely the books themselves.
They follow.


THE LITTLE RED WRITING BOOK. Cute title, a “twist” of an approach as many books are doing now, like THE ART OF WAR FOR WRITERS (a decent book if you need to get some silent support) and various others.

Rather to my surprise, however, beyond the creamy paper, the very nice font and fine layout, it is somewhat classic in its approach and topics covered – like, how to set up an essay and where the conclusion belongs; friends&faux amis, in terms of using “then” and “than”; clarity; emphasis on verbs rather than adjectives; and, etc. You get the drift.

It’s kind of a nouveau Strunk&White.  I hand this one to the newbies, the younger gen who might not like the look S&W, even the illustrated one. However, if “looking” for new/fresh/same stuff-different presentation, I’d still fall back on, then,  Grammar Girl, who is a big hit with me (definitely for the corporate team) but also because I like her podcasts.


THE PRODUCTIVE WRITER is another “nice little book.” Do you need it on your shelf? Well, first of all, it’s small, not tiny, but will be smaller than your other books. Which could make them fall over, you know, if you propped this one  in a shelf that wasn’t already jam-packed.   I’m just saying that if you like everything to align on the shelf, this one will throw it off.

So this one has tips and tools to help you write more, as the subtitle explains (kinda hard to read in the picture, though.)
But seriously, I have already forgotten what this one focused on… I mean, how it looked and what was in it. However, I didn’t get all excited and dance-y about it, nor put it on the “library” list in my notebook. And Amazon is not letting me take a look to refresh my memory. Ultimately, this one does not make the “yes” pile.


Houston, we have a winner here.  Not crazy about the paper in this one, BUT I like the book’s set up and author Jill Dearman goes long, offering some exercises, too, which are always good and always better than little examples – I LIKE it when they give us something to do, to practice.  And equal to that, I like when they come up with something I haven’t thought of or, didn’t look at it that way before. She answers to t hat.

This one focuses more on writing your story/book/novel, with a verb approach, that is, “action!” And there IS something compelling about the sounds of the keys when you’re typing, too, which means that SOMETHING is happening (and hopefully it’s not akin to Jack Nicholson’s freakout in THE SHINING).
(Note that this book gets 5-star reviews on Amazon, too!)

Overall,  I like the energy in this one. Did I buy it? No. I might look at the library. I’ll probably skulk around it and if over the next two months, I “finish” 2 or 3 of my current writing books (a weakness, yes, because they’re like my support group whether I’m writing fiction on my own, or regional journalistic pieces), I’l borrow or buy it. Stay tuned…

So, there ya’ go.  If you’re stalled, pick up one of these OR if you’re wondering what new (writing) book just might put you in your chair and move you to get started or keep going, maybe just holding one of these little tomes and flipping through the pages will help. Hey, why not?

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§ 10 Responses to Book Night: some writing books I haven’t read…yet…

  • mandy says:

    I need to add the last one to my list of books I need to check out. Lately I feel like I’m only writing cover letters. Some writing inspiration would be a wonderful find.

  • Jeannine says:

    When I read your posts I get that “ah ha” thing. . . you put into words what I haven’t quite formulated properly, but know to be true.
    What is it this time? Book sizing! I don’t like odd sized, odd shaped, little books. They’re not restful!

  • jeanie says:

    Always love it when you take to the reviewing stand — you’re generally spot on (when I know the ones you mention) so I figure you’re there for the ones I don’t know, too!

    But I have to say, I really love the detail! Love it! The part about the size of the book and tipping the others out — well, you got me there! Perfectly!

  • anno says:

    ahhh … paper, font & format. Makes a difference doesn’t it, in how the message is received? Loved your reviews; will be looking for the first & the third — can always use some inspiration in my so-called writing life.

  • shoreacres says:

    Of course The Little Red Writing Book would be the classic – like the little Red School House!

    When I read through Jill Dearman’s blog, I wasn’t impressed at all. It seemed schlocky. BUT she’s got a video up with selections from a workshop and it’s really quite interesting. It’s nearly ten minutes, which is long enough to give you a feel for her and suggest what sorts of things might be in the book.

    Bang the Keys video

  • Heather says:

    Does that last one really only have four steps to a lifelong writing practice? Four steps? Huh, will need to ponder that.

  • Bella Rum says:

    You make me laugh sometimes.

    “I’m just saying that if you like everything to align on the shelf, this one will throw it off.”

    That can be very important. Yes, it can.

    I still miss the idea of coffee. I had to give it up. I’m long over the initial withdrawal, and I drink decaf tea. It’s quite satisfying, but the aroma of coffee can not be topped.

  • Lydia says:

    Love the theme, btw!

  • Terri B. says:

    Hmmm … I didn’t know about Grammar Girl. Will have to check her podcasts out!

  • oh says:

    Instead of “replying” to each above, which is always a good thing to do, I’m off now, to visit each of you!

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