Geoffrey McGeachin’s number one writing rule is Real writing is rewriting. Gabrielle Lord’s is Make writing your first priority, and Peter Corris doesn’t want to set rules but does advise learning from both mistakes and successes. With nineteen others, these crime writers share their journey to publication, their writing processes, tips and rules, and recommended reads in If I Tell You… I’ll Have to Kill You: Australia’s Leading Crime Writers Reveal Their Secrets.
Whilst suitable for anyone with an interest in crime fiction or true crime, this offering is most likely to appeal to writers (and aspiring writes) of the genre. The contributors are all multi published Australian authors, who’ve also had success on the international stage. Though crime is the common ground, the range of their writing focus is broad – from true crime, to detective novel, to historical fiction and more.
Because each chapter is contributed by a different author, the book can be either read cover to cover or dipped into, and while the focus is crime writing, writers of all interests and levels of experience are likely to find value in both the writing advice and the sharing of journeys to publication (and beyond).
Other contributors include Kerry Greenwood. Garry Disher, Barry Maitland and Leigh Redhead.
If I Tell You… I’ll Have to Kill You: Australia’s Leading Crime Writers Reveal Their Secrets, edited by Michael Robotham
Allen & Unwin, 2013
Available from good bookstores and online.
One of the biggest traps in new writing is dabbling around the edges of emotional issues. Your story must pack an emotional punch. (Valerie Parv)
Bestselling author Valerie Parv knows a lot about writing romance books which sell and, in her earlier book, The Art of Romance Writing shared her knowledge in a step by step fashion for writers wishing to learn to write in the genre. This new offering, Heart and Craft offers something a little different. With contributions from some of Australia’s best known romance authors, this volume brings together a range of advice for beginning and established writers. Each of the first eleven chapters is contributed by a different author, offering her own insights into how to craft romance fiction, with advice focussing on aspects including character development, research, editing and more. The final six chapters offer snippets of advice from each of the authors on matters including dialogue, point of view and marketing.
For anyone writing, or considering writing, any form of romantic fiction, this is an invaluable aid. Writers in other genres will also find much here to inspire and inform, with much of the advice transcending genre.
Contributors include Parv, Helen Bianchin, Lillian Darcy and Daphne Clair, among others.
Heart and Craft: Bestselling Romance Writers Share Their Secrets with You, edited by Valerie Parv
Allen & Unwin, 2009
This book can be purchased online at Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.
What better way to learn about writing children’s books, than to get personal advice from someone who has written more than ninety-five of them? Jill McDougall is a multi-published children’s book author and in her new ebook, Become a Children’s Writer: Insider Secrets, she offers new writers the benefit of her experience.
McDougall offers practical advice on a range of topics, including getting started, finding ideas, gaining feedback and, importantly, finding markets. She also shares links to dozens of publishers which accept unsolicited manuscripts, saving the new writer hours of browsing.
McDougall’s style is upfront and open. She shares stories of her own mistakes and successes, gives hints ranging from biggies about submission procedures down to smaller (but no less relevant) matters like the colour of your printer paper, and generally inspires with her honesty and enthusiasm.
Whilst this offering is especially aimed at new and aspiring children’s authors, there are plenty of reminders for published authors, and the list of markets is in itself worth the cost of the book.
An outstanding resource.
Become a Children’s Writer: Insider Secrets, by Jill McDougall
Do you care about what children read?
Do you like reading to children and seeing how involved they become in the world the author’s created?
Do you like the thought of working on your own creating something unique?
Do you like the idea of helping children to learn?
If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, then children’s writing may well be for you. And a good starting point to investigate the hows and whys of writing for children is in this useful guide, Become a Children’s Writer. Part of the Top Job series, the guide provides loads of practical information about the children’s publishing industry, and about how to get started as a children’s writer.
MacDibble begins with a discussion of the skills necessary to become a children’s writer, followed by an introduction to the different kinds of publishers (trade versus educational) and the different types of children’s books, including picture books, chapter books, graded readers and young adult novels. She then moves onto some sound advice about writing craft, and finally practical information about submitting manuscripts and self-promotion. There is also a useful listing of contacts (including Australian publishers) and websites.
This 82 page guide is a wonderful starting point for anyone who is interested in writing for children. It also has lots of reminders for those who are already working in the industry. The information is well categorised, the writing style accessible, and the sturdy A4 format makes it easy to read and to locate relevant information. Whilst the earliest edition of the book was spiral bound, the guide is now book bound with an attractive cover.
The guide is available direct from the publisher online at www.topjobguide.com.au. An excellent resource.
Become a Children’s Writer, by Bren MacDibble
Australian Associated Publishing House, 2006
Writing romance novels can’t be that hard, can it? All you need is a copy of the secret formula, fill in the balnks and hey presto you are on the way to publication! Unfortunately, it isn’t quite that easy. If it was there would be a lot more rich romance authors in the world. Fortunately, for those who do want to try their hand at romance writing, Valerie Parv shares plenty of practical information in The Art of Romance Writing.
Parv, who has had over 50 novels published and is considered the Queen of Australia’s romance genre, debunks many of the myths surrounding romance books and the art of romance writing. In place of these misconceptions she offers solid, practical advice for romance writers and would-be romance writers.
Covering everything from plotting a story, to viewpoint and characters as well as choosing a publisher to target, submitting a mansucript and more, Parv shares her expereince in a way which is accessible and informative.
This is a new edition of the book, which was first published in 1993 and has been fully revsied to reflect changes to the market and genre in that time.
The Art of Romance Writing is an essential tool for anyone considering writing romantic fiction.
The Art of Romance Writing, by Valerie Parv
Allen & Unwin, 2004
The plethora of short story markets makes it a highly desirable form for any writer – established or novice. For many writers, however, the dream of writing saleable short stories proves far easier than the reality. Fine tuning an idea or plot outline into a polished short story is far harder than it appears.
In Think Outside the Square, Australian author Cheryl Wright guides writers through the short story process – from character, to plot idea, through to completed story and even marketing.
Wright, herself a successful and published author of short stories and articles (also published under the pen name Andrea Higgins-Wright), shares examples from her own stories, encouraging the reader every step of the way. Each section is backed up with exercises, making the book not just a how-to-write book, but an interactive writing workshop.
Readers will get most benefit from the book if they work through it one section at a time, reading what Wright has to say about each aspect of short story writing and studying her examples before trying the exercises for themselves. Readers who do this will finish the book with complete stories or, at least, plenty of outlines and ideas for stories of their own.
A great tool for any writer – either the novice, or the more experienced writer looking for some fresh inspiration.
Think Outside the Square: Writing Publishable (Short) Stories, by Cheryl Wright, 2003
Available from Writer2writer.com and booklocker.com
For anyone with an interest in picture books – be it as reader, writer, reviewer or artist – Making Picture Booksmakes for highly enlightening and entertaining reading.
Libby Gleeson, herself the author of such outstanding titles as Shutting the Chooks In, The Great Bear and Big Dog, explores the process of making a picture book from initial idea to final production. Using examples from her own work and that of such talents as Armin Greder, Margaret Wild, Allan Baillie and Tohby Riddle she offers advice and insight invaluable for those who aspire to write or illustrate picture books, as well as to those already involved in their production. For those who simply love the picture book form, there is also lots to absorb.
Packed full of anecdotes, illustrations and examples, Making Picture Books is simply brilliant.
Making Picture Books, by Libby Gleeson
If you have ever dreamt of writing for film or television, then this book will set you on the right track. Author Dr Lisa Dethridge, herself an experienced screenwriter, shares her knowledge in this comprehensive and accessible text.
Dethridge shares insights into the industry, basics such as setting out a screenplay, story structures, dialogue, characterisation and much more.
With practical examples and loads of advice, this is the book to turn to if you are interested in this career path.
Writing Your Screenplay, by Lisa Dethridge
Allen & Unwin, 2003
If you have ever dreamed of writing – of being able to call yourself a writer – then The Writer’s Guide is a good starting point.
Having been the Executive Director of the NSW Writer’s Centre for ten years, Irina Dunn is well aware of the kinds of problems and decisions likely to confront an aspiring writer. From what to write, to how to get it published, from basic equipment to self-promotion, Dunn provides detailed, sensible advice, backed by a comprehensive listing of useful resources.
Aimed at those who wish to write either for pleasure or as a source of income, Dunn’s counsel is frank. She explores the realities of the publishing industry in Australia and New Zealand, providing insight into the prospective highs and lows for a novice writer. For those with little expereince of the industry, this inside look is valuable.
Included in the book are over a hundred pages of resource listings. There are lists of reputable literary agents and manuscript assessors, poetry and children’s book publishers, literary festivals and internet resources. Some of these will be of immediate use to a new writer – others will be great for future reference.
The Writer’s Guide provides what its title suggests – a guide for writers to understand the intricacies of the writing life. An excellent resource.
The Writer’s Guide, by Irina Dunn
Allen & Unwin, 2002
Writing should be an easy process – pick up a pen, come up with something to write about – and write. Unfortunately, it isn’t always that easy. If you find yourself regularly staring at a blank page wondering just what it is you should be writing, then Writing From Start to Finish is for you.
Award winning write Kate Grenville shares her method for dealing with writing tasks – the Six-Step Method. Through the use of exercises, examples and explanations, she guides readers through the application of the six steps for both imaginative writing assignments and essay assignments.
The book would make an excellent text for high school or university English and writing classes but would also be an excellent personal resource for any writer’s home library.
Kate Grenville is one of Australia’s best known writers, having published six novels, and winning the Orange Prize for Fiction for The Idea of Perfection. Her other book for writers, the Writing Book, is an outstanding resource for both novice and professional writers.
Writing From Start to Finish, by Kate Grenville
Allen & Unwin, 2001