Like most writers I’m fascinated by how others work.
I greedily devour every tip, suggestion and piece of literary advice I can lay my hands on.
All of which explains why so many shelves in my bookcases positively groan with my huge collection of ‘writing books’.
Daphne Du Maurier’s The Rebecca Notebook and other memories was my first ‘find’ many years ago.
It was tucked away amongst the tourist tat in a tiny gift shop in Tintagel.
Daphne was thirty when she wrote Rebecca, in the late 1930s, but it was forty years later before she produced the little ‘Notebook’, where she describes how she planned her famous novel, sketching out chapters in advance. (Any of this sounding familiar?)
A review of the ‘Notebook’ in a national newspaper of the day, described it as ‘The anatomy of a bestseller in the making…fascinating reading.’
I second that!
It was a few years later that I added prolific Mills and Boon author, Mary Wibberley’s To Writers with Love to my collection.
Way back in the mists of time, when I found these two little gems, books like this – packed full of great advice and the writers’ own experience – were thin on the ground.
Now we are spoilt for choice.
Two more recent favourites (and the ones I still find most helpful) are Kate Walker’s 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance and Della Galton’s How to Write and Sell Short Stories.
I’m not sure how many writing books I have. I stopped counting at 40.
Admittedly some are more useful than others, but they all inspire.
I’d love to hear about your favourite writing book – and how useful you found it.
PS: Ian Rankin fans might be interested to know that he has brought his popular Edinburgh detective, John Rebus, out of retirement for his new book, Standing In Another Man’s Grave, to be released later this month.
A video diary kept by Rankin during the writing of the book is the subject of Imagine, a BBC arts programme to be shown on BBC 1, on Tuesday, November 6, at 10.35pm.