Tag Archive for: How-to Books

The Books on My Desk

My second novel is finished and I’m more than ready for a quiet vacation somewhere with a sandy beach, but until Oprah discovers a fondness for Irish wolfhounds, my trips will all be to mystery conventions. I’m going to Mayhem in the Midlands in May – no beaches, but Omaha is a great place to visit. Since I’m driving this year, I hope to have a chance to see all the sights.

Speaking of sights, my house looks like a disaster area. Or maybe just a house where nothing got done the past couple of months except writing. Looking around my living room, the place where I write (yes, I have a spare bedroom that I will eventually turn into an office but for now I’m superstitious about changing anything), I see the effects of the “write until you drop” effort. Office supplies, Christmas wrapping paper, TV Guides from November, receipts from Staples, pens with mismatched caps, sticky notes with all kinds of important information (i.e. the Pizza Hut delivery number, the name of a poison I researched, and a plot point I feared forgetting), and books. I have lots of books stacked on my desk, on the floor, even part of the sofa has been commandeered to serve as a temporary bookshelf.

I love books. I love reading. So when I decided I wanted to learn to write fiction, my first instinct was to purchase books on writing. I devoured dozens of “how-to” books. Some were useful, others not so much. Some yielded practical information – the correct punctuation of dialogue; others gave me hints for structuring a plot, introduced me to pacing, and clarified the finer points of “point of view.”

My favorites are already showing signs of wear and tear – I’ve read them more than once and refer to them often while writing.

Here’s the best of the best – my recommendations for any mystery writer’s desk.

For help with the nuts and bolts:
Writing the Novel – From Plot to Print – Lawrence Block.
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers – R. Browne & D. King.
Save the Cat! – Blake Snyder.

For research:
Death’s Acre – Dr. Bill Bass & Jon Jefferson
Deadly Doses, A Writer’s Guide to Poison – Stevens & Klarner.
Death to Dust–What Happens to Dead Bodies – Kenneth V. Iserson M.D.

For inspiration:
On Writing – Steven King.
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Anything by Laura Lippman or Nevada Barr

Evelyn David