Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Mini Mystery Writing Workshop

I'm always on the lookout for great writing resources, especially for mystery writers, so I wanted to pass this find along.

Several years ago my brother gave me the gift of Writing Mysteries, a handbook published by Writer's Digest. It's edited by Sue Grafton. I read it when I wasn't very serious about my writing.

Recently, I picked it up again and realized what a treasure chest of advice is contained in its pages. I just finished an essay on characterization by Michael Connelly and am looking forward to the one about writing a series character by Sara Paretsky. It's chock full of great advice about writing from authors such as Tony Hillerman, Tess Gerritsen, and Ann Rule.

The essays are arranged in sections: Preparation, Process (split into Beginning, Middle, and End), and Specialities.

It's kind of like going to a very good writing conference, but for less than $12. Not too shabby.

What books have you found to be invaluable in your writer's toolkit? Which ones do you turn to again and again?


  1. What a great book - I'll definitely have to check it out.
    One of my most frequently consulted books is not actually on writing, but when I tell you the title you'll realise why it's a must-have. 'What It Feels Like', a series of columns from Esquire magazine. It covers topics such as being shot in the head, being incredibly tall and having an epileptic fit.

  2. Funky and intriguing! I will definitely have to check it out. I'm researching strangulation at the moment. Thanks for the recommendation and follow!

  3. I like that you said reading a great craft book is like going to a conference but a whole lot cheaper! I agree! I went to my first writer's conference last year and am going again this year, but I truly feel like before that it would have been mostly a waste of money. I think the learning really takes place as we read craft books. And conferences are mostly for networking. I'm sure we can learn a lot at conferences too, but can easily learn the same info. for a lot less at home.

  4. Jody, you make a great point. I enjoy conferences for getting to know other writers, agents, etc. A few of the the craft classes have been helpful, but a lot of the material could have been gleaned from a book. I think I would enjoy a workshop type atmosphere conference; I'd like to try that some day. What writer's conference do you go to?

  5. This is more related to poetry--but I found it very helpful (and still do) is a book by Kim Addonizio called Ordinary Genius. I think some of the principles can applied to prose as well though. :)

  6. Thanks for the suggestion, Catherine. I'll have to check that out.