logo

Drake's Recommended Reading List

If you’re serious about becoming a professional writer, then you must be serious about learning this craft. That means you must be willing to do research. Yes, time and effort. And that includes a never-ending schedule of reading books about writing, the craft of story creation, social marketing, and the business of publishing. If these topics sound boring to you, please do the world a favor and don’t subject us to the horrors of your attempt at a writing career. If you don’t learn the craft, you will never write anything that is worth a crap. Just move along with your life and keep telling yourself, “One day…”
However, if you want to make a go at this crazy industry, you have to understand that you’ll never stop learning. Nearly three decades into this, and I’m still constantly reading books on the above listed topics. I’ve read hundreds, and until now, that’s what I did – read them. Used the knowledge they contained to push myself in my craft. With the launch of this website, I’d like to start recommending what I read to you. I’ll try and go back in my reading life and recommend books I’ve read over the years, however, I want to write up a review on them while they’re fresh in my mind. So, I’ll try and add at least one book a month to this list.

Dynamic Story Creation in Plain English by Maxwell Alexander Drake

logologologo

Of course, the first book I recommend you read is the book I wrote on the subject. Duh! Seriously though, it’s awesome. And I’m not simply saying that because my mother thinks it’s awesome. Err…

Who should read this:

If you’re thinking of writing professionally, you should read this book. I go into great detail of why stories are read, what it takes to create a story that will be read, why all stories are just like spaghetti, the importance of spaghetti, and how one day spaghetti shall be worshiped with the respect it deserves.
Seriously, if you struggle with understanding story creation, themes, or how elements of a story must be crafted to create a story that people will want to read, this book is for you.
Keep in mind, the book's a little cheaper if you purchase it directly from this site. Plus, I'll sign it!

Who should NOT read this:

If you’re easily offended, you shouldn’t read this book. In fact, you should probably stay clear of me all together as I’m really good at hurting thin-skinned people’s feelings – probably due to my religious belief that all thin-skinned people suck.
Oh, and if you truly believe you’re God’s gift to writing, and there’s no way an idiot like me could ever teach you anything (nor could anyone else for that matter, since compared to you, the world is full of idiots), you’ll want to steer clear of this book.

How Not to Write a Novel by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman

logologo

Oh, my lord, how I love this book! Mandantory Read. 'Nuff Said.

Who should read this:

If you’ve been writing for a while, and are at that stage when you’re thinking of submitting your work to the industry, you should read this book first. The book does not actually teach you anything per se. It simply contains things unpublished writers do that are stupid, that they have no idea are stupid, but will ensure your manuscript gets rejected for being stupid. So, if you really want to get published, read this book and try really hard NOT to do the stupid things it describes.

Who should NOT read this:

Again, those easily offended shouldn’t read this book. Also, if you're just starting out, you’ll get very little from this book. You need to have written a novel or two, attended various writer’s groups, and basically started poking at the idea of submitting to the industry before much of what is discussed will make any impact upon you.
Oh, and all that stuff about if you think you're God's gift to bla bla bla..., you’ll also want to steer clear of this book. By the way, there is one of “these people” in every writers’ group. This is that person who argues with anyone who points out anything they have done wrong in their writing. If you’re thinking to yourself, “Hey! My group doesn’t have one of “those people,” then that person is probably you.

The Deluxe Transitive Vampire by Karen Elizabeth Gordon

The first line of the back blurb of this book states, “Here now is an enlarged version of the only handbook of grammar you will ever want to read.” I could NOT agree less with this statement. Literally, if this statement were the North Pole, I would be the South Pole.
Now, I’m not saying this book is poorly written. On the contrary, it’s brilliant. And therein lies its faults.
There are two major issues with this book as an educational tool. First, the author subscribes wholeheartedly to the concept of, “Why use a simple word when a diminutive would elucidate the assemblage to a preponderant pinnacle?”
Regrettably, when you’re teaching a subject as complexed as grammar, using words in your examples that some people will have to look up just to understand your examples, before they can even grasp the concept of said examples, is just not the way to go. Sure, it shows how frickin’ smart the author is – or at least her ability to use a thesaurus – but it does little in helping to “teach” the topic at hand.
The second big issue with this book is while the author obviously had some amazing teachers teaching her how to use English grammar, she herself has no concept of what it means to teach.
To teach a subject, it’s not sufficient to simply list “how” things are done. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what this author does. This book pretty much lists every single aspect of grammar, from verbs to nouns, and Gerunds as Objects of Prepositions to Pronoun-Antecedent Agreements. But that’s all it does. List them. Sure, it gives an example of each in use. So, if you’re writing the exact sentences used as examples in this book, you’re good.
No. Teaching is SO much more than that. You MUST teach WHY things are used. That way, when the student gets into a situation that’s unique to their story, they can apply your teachings of WHY things are done in English, and continue sailing on into calmer grammatical seas. Simply stating:
Not:
Loona and myself always arrive late.
But:
Loona and I always arrive late.
does not explain why one is right and one is wrong. Without the why, how does one apply this information to their own writing?

Who should read this:

If you’re a cleaver person, who has already cleverly figured out how English grammar works, and would like to read a cleverly written book by a cleaver author who is WAY smarter than you, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of this book. It has some interesting tidbits of information.

Who should NOT read this:

If you’ve never heard of Gerunds as Objects of Prepositions or Pronoun-Antecedent Agreements, and would like to learn what these terms mean, how they work in English grammar, and how to apply them correctly in your own writing, I would steer clear of this book. (Oh, and BTW, you do need to know what these topics mean and how to use them… and so much more. I just don’t feel you will “learn” them from reading this book.)

The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

This book just barely misses my mandatory read. Why? Because not everyone needs this.

Who should read this:

If you struggle with new and interesting ways to convey your character’s emotions on the page, you should probably pick up a copy of this book. It is really more of a list, than a book. A list of emotions. Lots and lots of emotions. And some cool ways of looking at those emotions as they relate to relating them to readers.

Who should NOT read this:

If you are already an immersive writer, and your readers all agree that your characters come off as so three-dimensional they could literally walk right off the page, you can probably skip this book.

The Positive Trait Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

logologo

This is a wonderful tool for all writers, and one I feel is much better than The Emotion Thesaurus by these same authors. Using what they learned from compiling the first book of this series, this next book adds a ton more.

Who should read this:

Anyone who is writing speculative fiction. Seriously, this book is so chock-a-block full of things that will get your creative juices flowing, you are only hurting yourself by not picking up a copy of this book.

Who should NOT read this:

If you are already an immersive writer, and your readers all agree that each of your characters is so unique that no two are alike, you can probably skip this book.

The Negative Trait Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

logologo

Ditto everything I said about the Positive Trait Thesaurus.

Who should read this:

Ditto everything I said about the Positive Trait Thesaurus.

Who should NOT read this:

Ditto everything I said about the Positive Trait Thesaurus.