One of the best craft of writing books I’ve read is Bringing the Devil to His Knees: The Craft of Fiction and the Writing Life, edited by Charles Baxter and Peter Turchi. Here are some more excellent writing resources from Turchi. His discussion on annotations has inspired me to reread one of my favorite novels (This Heavy Silence by Nicole Mazzarella) and consider the question: How does one write a quiet, beautiful novel? Pacing, dialogue, suspense–how does one do those well within the context of a quieter, character-driven story?
I will write a longer post on the value of a formal study of writing soon, but one of the most valuable aspects of my MA program has been the exposure to teaching writers like Turchi, who present the study of creative writing in a thoughtful, wise, and surprising manner. This is not your glib “show, don’t tell” approach to crafting fiction. The depth that writers like Turchi bring to the study of fiction has enriched my writing life, and I hope, allowed me to make choices and changes to my fiction that strengthened each piece. I have a long way to go, but I feel like I’m going in the right direction (to continue the writing journey metaphor).
Other helpful books I have read:
On Writing Short Stories, edited by Tom Bailey
The Art of the Personal Essay, selected by Phillip Lopate