Here are a couple titles I’ve come to adore over the years. Having read my fair share of less than helpful guides on writing, these two have been the best.
I love this book. It is full of poetic wisdom and examples that actually show the mistakes one typically makes while writing and what they can do to improve. While The Triggering Town focused on poetry, many of the exercises can be utilized to strengthen prose as well. A few months ago I had found an old notebook and flipped through its pages to find some exercises I had done while in school. I had done the assignment called Assumptions. The exercise calls for the writer to indulge in their imagination, to put on the page an immediate assumption of a person or place and just roll with it. Here Richard Hugo encourages the ridiculousness of the mind and its jumps, the language we use to create and shape the stories we tell ourselves. Even better Hugo provides six pages worth of examples he had done.
My favorite college professor had Fiction Writer’s Workshop on the syllabus. Every week he’d assign a chapter and we were to do the exercises as well as submit our own work. The book utilizes the classic structure of fiction and hones in on the intimate details of writing which set apart great fiction from the rest. Novakovitch also uses examples of great literature to provide observations on technique and how to utilize them in your own work. Fiction Writer’s Workshop works for those who’s want to read it in its entirety and also for those who want to read up specifics, like point of view, or plot.
I hope you’ll give these a chance.