If I could only take 3 - #Books on #Writing - Jo-Ann Carson

If I could only take 3 – #Books on #Writing

If I was flying off to an exotic locale for a holiday with five minute notice, or if the world was coming to an end and I had a ticket on a space ship destined for  a safer planet, or if the zombie apocalypse was knocking on my door, which three books on writing would I escape with?

One: Save the Cat!

save the catby Blake Snyder

It’s a brilliant book about screenwriting  I use to construct my stories. Comprehensive and insightful it outlines how to create a story board for your plot and how to fill it wisely. And he makes you laugh all the way through the process. One of my favorite chapters is number Six, The immutable Laws of Screenplay Physics: Save the Cat, The Pope in the Pool, Double Mumbo Jumbo, Laying Pipe, Too Much Marzipan… Watch Out for That Glacier! and Covenant of the Arc. Each law is priceless. I definitely have to have that book in my lifefboat.

Two: The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes & Heroines

charactersby Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFever and Sue Viders

I love character driven plots and this book helps me keep my people real and interesting. It outlines sixteen master archetypes and talks about how they interact with each other. I never create a character that is all one archetype, but reading about them helps me. It definitely needs to be in my backpack.

Three: The Emotion Thesaurus

by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

emotion thesaurusI like to add visceral details to a story so that the reader can feel and not just see what’s going on. But I need to vary it and sometimes my old-noggin just can’t seem to come up with a new physical response to a situation. That’s when I turn to this thesaurus. It’s not as near and dear to me as the first two, but it’s definitely worth making room for in my suitcase.

shutterstock_104723360 (1)How about you? Which three books on writing would you take?

BTW – 2 items – 

On Monday I’m visiting Vicki Batman’s blog and talking about my cat bag: (http://vickibatman.blogspot.com/2016/02/handbag-monday-romantic-suspense-author.html)

And . . . on sale this week:



22 Replies to “If I could only take 3 – #Books on #Writing”

  1. Hi Pat
    I first heard about the characters book from Lee. She loves it. It’s quite fun. Next time we meet, I’ll bring it along.
    Thanks for sopping by and adding to the conversation.

  2. I must check out your favorites, Jo-Ann – especially ‘Save the Cat’. I like ‘Techniques of the selling writer’ by Dwight V. Swain, ‘Elements of Style’ by Strunk & White and – since I’m a Regency writer – a great resource is “Georgette Heyer’s Regency World: The definitive guide to the people, places and society in Georgette Heyer’s Regency novels”. This book has everything
    from the intricacies of tying a neckcloth to conducting a duel or navigating the social Season.

    1. Hi Helena
      I love how you’ve added one for Regency. It sounds fantastic. I have the Strunk book and I’ve used that over the years, but I haven’t read the Dwight V Swain one. Maybe I could borrow that.
      Thanks so much for dropping in and adding to the conversation. It must be so much fun to write about duels.
      Best Wishes

  3. Love your picks, Jo-Ann! I have all three. I’d add “GMC: Goal, Motivation & Conflict” by Debra Dixon , “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers” by Renni Browne & Dave King, and “The First Five Pages” by Noah Lukeman.

    1. Hi Jacqui
      I like your picks too, especially Renni Browne and Dave King’s self editing book.
      I like the idea of GMC, but I must confess it overwhelms me. When I saw the work you do on your characters (on our retreat) I was blown away. No wonder your characters are so rich and your adventures so fun to follow.
      Thanks for stopping by and adding to the conversation.
      Best Wishes

  4. Hey, Jo-Ann. Super post as always. I’ve heard of all three of your books, and had bits and pieces of them in conferences. I used the Save the Cat idea in my first book when it was suggested that my hero wasn’t very likable. He actually saved a dog, but the theory applies. I can’t wrap my head around the archetypes though I try. I just think humans are too complex for that. Or maybe I’m just not deep enough to figure out who my characters are. LOL The Emotions Thesauras is also good. I’ve wondered how you get so much visceral stuff in your writing. It’s quite amazing. I’m more about the Strunk & White & Brown & King books. But I confess I’m probably not taking any of them in the event of a disaster. Grabbing the old photo albums for sure. I’ve never gotten around to digitizing them. 🙂 I’ve shared.

    1. Hi Marsha
      I love your “save the dog,” story. It works.
      I can see you with your photo albums climbing onto the ark. I’m stuck between albums and digital pics and I’ve got to get myself more organized. I just seem to be busy a lot.
      Thanks so much for sharing and taking the time to chat.
      all the best

  5. Hi Jo-Ann. I have Save the Cat. It was suggested to me by a friend who writes plays and was in my writing group. I also have The Emotion Thesaurus and use it all of the time. I have the other two books in that series and still haven’t figure out how to utilize them.

    I’ve read many books on writing. None come to mind that were much better than any of the others. If I had to choose one it would probably be Stephen King’s On Writing.

    Thank you for a great post. Best wishes with your writing and novels. 🙂

    1. Hi Susan,
      I know what you mean about the other thesauruses. I purchased one and it’s well written, but I don’t find myself using it. And I love Stephen King’s book. He’s brilliant.
      Thanks for your well wishes and for taking the time to stop by my blog and add to the conversation. I’m cheering on your success.
      Best Wishes

  6. I enjoyed Larry Brooks’ “Story Engineering”. I don’t have a book thatI frequently go to. More, it’s when I have a need the book falls onto my lap.Right now I’m reading Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird.”

  7. Hi JoAnn, I popped over to your blog after reading your interview at Marsha West’s blog.Thanks for sharing your top 3 writing books. I’m not familiar with the first two, but I dig through the emotion thesaurus all the time. When I was in a particular blue time during writing and wondering if I should ever try to be a writer, I was inspired by Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. And for book marketing, Crush It on the Kindle by Michael Thomas is packed with helpful information.

    1. Hi Janet
      So nice to have you visit.
      I met Natalie Goldberg when I did graduate work at SFU. Wow, she’s one impressive lady and I do like her book. I haven’t read Michael Thomas’s book though and will have to take a look. I’d love to crush something on kindle. lol
      Thanks for the tips and for stopping by. Tomorrow I’m hosting Marsha on my blog.

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