There are tons of books for writers on the shelves today. You walk into B&N or Borders, and you're inundated with how-tos. You want to write a fantasy novel, they got a book to tell you how. Mysteries? Yep. Romance–oh yeah. There are creative writing kits in a box, books of writing exercises, prompts, inspiration, etc. You can find out how to write poetry or how to write articles. There's even a book on how to write in Paris.

The variety's amazing, really, and I always get stuck browsing those shelves and deciding if there are any books I'd like to take home. Many of them are duplicating the same information, quite honestly. Some are a waste of money. I leave it to you to make up your own mind.

Here is a book I didn't take seriously at first:

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Why not? Well, you open it up and it's full of graphics. In one case, there's only one word on that fancy page. It's silly almost. And yet, this book is fabulous! It took me a while to realize that, I admit. It also didn't hurt that Professor Goldsberry is a local author and that he came to speak to our RWA chapter. He is a literary author and a University of Hawaii creative writing instructor and he did not, for even a second, look down his nose at the romance writers. I was impressed, not only with his attitude, but also with his no nonsense approach to teaching (and he didn't like all those graphics either, but it wasn't his decision).

The 101 rules are golden. It's a fun book and it's full of good advice. In light of the debate on suspense raging elsewhere (here and here), here's a rule I stumbled across while rereading just today that made a lot of sense to me:

Rule #53: The first duty of the writer is to entertain.

An excerpt from the rule: “Readers lose interest with exposition and abstract philosophy. They're here because they want stories. They want to see things. Be entertained. But they will feel cheated if, in the course of entertaining, you haven't taught them something. Remember the great dictum of Horace, who said writing must ‘delight and instruct.' But delight first.”

This is one book I keep close, if only for the inspiration that reading the rules provides. Check it out for yourself.