The 5 best books for (preternatural) writers and role-players

Once upon a time, there was a reporter who dreamed of making a career out of writing about the things that scared her or attracted her in that dark and secret way that we are never supposed to confess. The problem was, she didn’t have a clue how to do it. So she signed up for this thing called Blogathon and dug out some books about writing that she thought might help and jumped into The Preternatural Post with both feet.

2011 Blogathon participant

Ok, so it’s actually been more than a year since The Preternatural Post launched and the reporter is still wandering around clueless. At least the Blogathon adventure is new, having just begun on 1 May, 2011. And she did turn to other writers for help, though they might not be the ones you would guess. When it comes to books about writing those that you’ll always find on hand at The Preternatural Post editorial offices are:

Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel by Hallie Ephron. An odd choice to start with but this book is a must-have for anyone creating characters. Unlike books that focus exclusively on creating characters, this book also explores how the characters work together to develop a cohesive and hopefully entertaining storyline (plot). Every serious role player ought to own it.

How to Write Articles for Newspapers and Magazines by Dawn B. Sova is a little book full of inspiration and information. It’s also great for bloggers. If you goal is to write news and not a novel or a memoir, this book will steer you through the process whether you’re a beginner or an experienced journalist. Plus, at just 96 pages it’s light enough to toss in a briefcase, backpack or purse for those loose moments in time when you just need something to read and think about.

Tarot for Writers by Corrine Kenner. In spite of relying on a very generic deck, this is a fun and useful book for fiction writers and role players. You can use it for writing prompts (Stirring the Pot) or to help develop characters (especially secondary characters that you don’t want to be clichés but don’t want to spend a lot of time on) and even to discover direction for your plot. Anyone who also does horoscopes, numerology or just the meaning of character names will want to add this book to their shelves.

The Copyright Handbook: How to Protect and Use Written Works by Attorney Stephen Fishman. Not the most interesting reading, but essential for any writer. Never publish without it. The folks over at Facebook ought to read it, too.

There are so many candidates for this last spot, it’s really hard to choose just one. Anything by Bob (Robert Bly) is both wonderful and useful for a working writer but Copywriter’s Handbook stands out. Publish Your Own Magazine, Guidebook or Weekly Newspaper by Thomas Williams is great if your interests lie in that direction as the initial concept of The Preternatural Post did. For those just beginning their journey as writers, 30 Steps to Becoming a Writer by Scott Edelstein comes in very handy and Stephen King‘s On Writing might seem a natural fit here. But, in the end, we have to choose something closer to our hearts and hands:

Creative Nonfiction: Researching and Crafting Stories of Real Life by Philip Gerard. This amazing book reveals how to make even the mundane interesting (can you say invisibility cloaks?). If you like to deal with facts but give them a twist or apply your own perspective this book will show you how. It’s even kind of fun to read. Be warned, it can easily lead to getting lost in the library or online searches for days or weeks or months or….

Preternatural writers aren’t much different from any other kind of writer. Oh sure, their topics may stray a bit from the mainstream and their worldview may be a bit skewed with a plethora of fascinating and sometimes frightening creatures “normals” never see, but the act a writing is pretty much the same whether you’re writing a paranormal romance novel, a horror screenplay, a ghost story or a spell that happens to rhyme.

As to the end of The Preternatural Post tale, it’s still being written. We have high hopes and lots of dreams. Care to help us turn them into reality?

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