Why I Like “How-To” Guides

As I’ve worked to develop my writing life this past year I’ve acquired my fair share of “how to be a better writer” books in my library. Most of them have been useful and have taught me a lot about plot building, story arcs, character development, and writing technique.

The main lesson I’ve learned from all these books is that writers must not only practice their craft, but also read and study writing. I’ve mentioned before how the Myth of the Lone Writer – the writer sitting down and drafting excellence on their first attempt – often gets in my way. Reading the “how-to” guides both edifies me and helps inoculate against this myth.

That being said, I can also let myself get wrapped up too much into reading how to do something instead of actually doing that said something. This is why it’s always great to find practical writing advice that’s short and easy to follow.

A recent post over at Author Voices hits the nail on the head with the following:

Before starting your bestseller fiction story, dig some research on other author’s writing styles. Learn how they develop their plots. Study how they expose their characters and the emotions behind them. Researching and learning from others will also open up new ideas on how to mold your story.

The post goes on to outline four straightforward techniques that can be used to improve your creative writing now. It’s definitely worth checking out.


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