January Meeting Notes

What is your favorite book on writing?

We had a newcomer at today’s Saturday Writers Group. We always love seeing new faces.

New writers often ask, how do I learn how to write? How do I plan a novel and get that first draft written? These are big questions.

Luckily better writers than us have tackled them. Our discussion circled around several times to the same question, what is the best book on writing? We all had our favorites. Here are just a few we discussed.

On Writing

By Stephen King

Stephen King is definitely a master story teller and it’s no surprise that his book on writing is a favorite among several of our Saturday Writers.

Zen in the Art of Writing

By Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury is another master story teller and his book on writing, Zen and the Art of Writing is another favorite of our members.

Heinlein’s Five Simple Business Rules for Writing

By Dean Wesley Smith

Science fiction author Robert Heinlein made his living writing genre science fiction by following five simple rules. Dean Wesley lays them out in this book.

How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method

By Randy Ingermanson

Wanting more practical advice? Try the Snowflake method.

The first two books on the list may help you with creative. Heinlein’s rules deal with the discipline of writing. The snowflake method deals with the bare bones of how to plot out a story, taking you from a single sentence to a fully drafted novel.

Those are our picks for best books on writing. What would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments, or come next month and tell us in person.

Protecting Your Creativity – September Meeting Notes

Our September meeting was fabulous! Some of the fun things we talked about:

Keeping your creativity safe from negative or hostile opinions. That can mean not sharing the genre you write in if you suspect people won’t react well to it. Or it can mean keeping the details of a new story private so that comments from even well-meaning listeners don’t distort or harm your vision. Protect and nurture your creativity until it is ready to share with the world!

Rock Your Revisions: A Simple System for Revising Your Novel by Cathy Yardley – Cheryl has been using this for her revision process and has found it really helpful.

Undertale is a role-playing video game where you don’t have to kill anything throughout the entire game. It  has some interesting twists for the player that might get you thinking in different ways.

365 Writing Prompts – A prompt for each day of the year and a terrific tool to help you get into a daily writing habit and inspire your creativity along the way.

The Creative Penn – Joanna Penn blogs about writing and self-publishing and hosts a wonderful podcast where she interviews industry people for inspiration and information on writing and creativity, publishing options, book marketing and creative entrepreneurship.

Jenna Moreci – She writes books and creates videos about writing books. Check out this one on The Nine Weird Habits of Writers. Caution – she uses some profanity.

Kim Chance – another YouTuber who creates videos about writing.

Notes from the July Meeting as Rachel Plans to Take Over the Group

With Cheryl and Amy out of town at a book signing it was up to me, Rachel, to run the Saturday Writers meeting. <Insert diabolical laughter here> Bwa-ha-ha. I was thrilled to be in charge — until Dan pointed out that only thing I was in charge of was taking notes. Thanks, Dan.

The group was small but the discussions lively as usual. We had a couple of new members including one published poet. You can check out Dennis Maulsby and his Vietnam War poetry on his webpage.

One of the things we discussed were some of the great masters of psychological suspense, like H. P. Lovecraft and Hitchcock. All of H. P. Lovecraft’s writing is public domain, which means it can be picked up in ebook format for free. They can be read online on the H. P. Lovecraft Archives or or get a copy for the kindle/nook here.

We discussed novel planning for some time. Two of us were huge fans of Scrivener writing software. It allows you to keep everything related to your latest work in progress in one project folder, so nothing gets lost. It has tools for storyboarding and planning, as we as a built in editor, so you can both plan and write your novel in Scrivener. It can even format the end file for print or ebooks. It comes with a generous trial period and they often run Nanowrimo specials. If you do buy, it’s well worth the 49 dollars.

There are many ways to go about planning a novel. Some people like to write by the seat of their pants. Others like to plot and outline their novels. Still others storyboard. Many writers mix and match styles to suit their personality and needs.

Again, there were a couple of us who really like the snowflake method. The snowflake method helps you build the story from the center out, starting with a single sentence and expanding from their until you have enough background to write an entire novel. For Scrivener writers, Caroline Norington has provide an excellent Scrivener template to use with the snowflake method.

Shortly before we broke for the day, we discussed best sellers. Reading is part of learning to write and every writer should read as widely as possible. We might sometimes disparage certain bestselling authors or books, moaning about the state of literature and “how did they succeed?” But it can be worthwhile to suspend our judgement and read these books with a critical eye. Obviously they did something right, otherwise millions of people wouldn’t be buying their books. By identifying those things, we can make ourselves better writers, too.

As fun as the discussion was, we always have room for more writers. Feel free to come down and join us next month. Until then, keep writing.