So last week someone told me that my how to fix up your dialogue post sounded like something yanked out of a writing book. It definitely wasn't, but I can't decide if I feel insulted or pleased by this comment.
The thing is, I'm not a big fan of writing books. I've just always felt that my time was better spent writing than reading about writing, you know?
I mean, the books I have read were helpful. The Seven Basic Plots helps shape cranky plot structures, Reading Like A Writer shows how to identify what does and doesn't work in a story, and No Plot? No Problem! is the speedwriting NaNoWriMo handbook. I've always wanted to read On Writing and Save the Cat! just because I've heard so many good things about them. And, of course, From the Query to the Call is supposed to be the ultimate (and free!) guide to querying.
The problem, I think, is when you start reading too many of these books. How many writers stymie themselves by endlessly reading writing books because they're afraid that they don't know how to write? How many writers waste time with methods that don't work for them because a famous author talked about it in his book?
Writing books set rules, but people need to remember that writing rules should really be referred to as writing guidelines.
They help keep you in line, away from cliches and poor structure and weak writing. But if your story needs to start with a prologue, or needs an adverb in that sentence, or needs to tell something instead of showing it, then you shouldn't be afraid to do that. Don't let a writing book tell you how to write your own story.
I urge you to read some writing books, but don't start worshiping them. And please, don't hold everything I say to that standard either. Everyone has their own method and their own rules they like to follow. Knowledge is awesome, but the most important thing is to write in a way that works for you.
So what writing books have you guys read? Did you like or dislike them? And what do you think about writing blogs, since they can get writing booky at times? Tell me in the comments.