Our first post!
What better way to start a blog dedicated to the writing and editing of fiction than to suggest two of my favorite books on the subject? If you want to improve your fiction writing technique and you aren't already getting published in the top literary magazines, then I think you could do a lot worse than to treat these two books like textbooks.
By that I mean, don't just read them, put them away, and never think about them again. I mean re-read them like they're a manual on how to live a better life.
The first is one I've been recommending for years: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, 2nd. edition, by Renni Browne and Dave King. I haven't read every book on editing every written, but I've read quite a few and this is the one I keep coming back to. Before I studied this book, I got lots of personalized rejection letters from paying markets. After studying it, I sold five short stories to paying markets within 15 months. If that's not a recommendation, I don't know what one is. It's less than $10 on Amazon as I type this. You will never get better writing advice for $10.
Want to dig even deeper, and think about fiction in a way you might never have before? Then try How Fiction Works by James Wood. Right now it's only six dollars on Amazon. This one's a tougher read because it's not a how-to manual like the other book; it's a series of thought-provoking essays and an exploration of the mechanics of fiction through example and discussion. I would say it's not for beginners, but I would still recommend it to any and all serious students of fiction writing.
Since I want this blog to be a series of dialogues, not lectures, I ask for your input: What books on fiction writing have you found most useful? And if you're familiar with the two books I've mentioned, do you agree with my recommendations?