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mail@kelleytownley.com

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Content edit of adult fiction (not chick-lit, romance or hard-core crime). Price per hour (approx. 30 pages).
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 Recommended Non-fiction Reading



  If you want to be a good writer then you need to read!


  Read anything and everything but especially read the type of books you would like to write. This is especially true of children's fiction. I see a lot of writers who think they are writing a children's book but who actually aren't - rather they are writing what they think is a children's book without having read any recent examples. If you want to write a 5-7yr chapter book, go and read some. If you want to write a YA novel, go and read some. Each genre has its own dos and don'ts, clichés and no-go areas. Read, read, read... After all, you can only gain knowledge and experience.

  It's also tempting to read non-fiction books that claim to make you a better writer - but you don't have to. The truth is only you can make you a better writer. It takes a lot of hard work and practice. The best way to do this is to write something, step away from it for a while, and then come back. I can guarantee you'll start seeing the problems in it when you've had some time away. Then you rewrite it, and then you leave it again. The writing process is never, ever finished for the author - you can always tweek it - but you have to draw the line somewhere and that's where an editor like me comes in!

  That being said a little bit of help in applying critical thought and technique to your work is not a bad thing. There are lots of books out there that claim to help writers polish their craft - especially nowadays - and they are all worth something. However this is a collection of books that my colleagues and I agree really are worth the money. 



Click on the book cover to go to Amazon but please do support your local bookshops where possible.

















THE BASICS - to get you started




The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron

A real classic. This is not specifically for writers but for anyone who desires to do something creative.

"The Artist's Way provides a twelve-week course that guides you through the process of recovering your creative self. It aims to dispel the 'I'm not talented enough' conditioning that holds many people back and helps you to unleash your own inner artist. Its step-by-step approach enables you to transform your life, overcome any artistic blocks you may suffer from, including limiting beliefs, fear, sabotage, jealousy and guilt, and replace them with self confidence and productivity. It helps demystify the creative process by making it a part of your daily life. Whatever your artistic leanings, this book will give you the tools you need to enable you to fulfil your dreams."



Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

A book by a writer about being a writer - a sort of helpful chat. This is especially good for those with a more literary leaning when it comes to their writing. 

"'Think you've got a book inside of you? Anne Lamott isn't afraid to help you let it out. She'll help you find your passion and your voice, beginning from the first really crummy draft to the peculiar let-down of publication. Readers will be reminded of the energizing books of writer Natalie Goldberg and will be seduced by Lamott's witty take on the reality of a writer's life, which has little to do with literary parties and a lot to do with jealousy, writer's block and going for broke with each paragraph. Marvellously wise and best of all, great reading."









On Writing by Stephen King

A very different kind of writer but also very interesting - this is one for the more plot-driven writers. 
  

"Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer's craft. Short and snappy as it is, Stephen King's On Writing really contains two books: a fondly sardonic autobiography and a tough-love lesson for aspiring novelists but the focus is always on what it all means to the craft. He gives you a whole writer's "tool kit": a reading list, writing assignments, a corrected story and nuts-and-bolts advice on dollars and cents, plot and character, the basic building block of the paragraph and literary models. He shows what you can learn from HP Lovecraft's arcane vocabulary, Hemingway's leanness, Grisham's authenticity, Richard Dooling's artful obscenity, Jonathan Kellerman's sentence fragments. He explains why Kellerman's Hart's War is a great story marred by a tin ear for dialogue, and how Elmore Leonard's Be Cool could be the antidote. King isn't just a writer, he's a true teacher."





The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker

Anyone interested in stories of any sort will love this. A real tour de force of plots.

"Breathtaking in its scope and originality, 'Seven Basic Plots' examines the basis of story telling in literature, film, and libretto. No one will ever see stories in the same way again. This remarkable and monumental book at last provides a comprehensive answer to the age-old riddle of whether there are only a small number of 'basic stories' in the world. Using a wealth of examples, from ancient myths and folk tales via the plays and novels of great literature to the popular movies and TV soap operas of today, it shows that there are seven archetypal themes which recur throughout every kind of storytelling. But this is only the prelude to an investigation into how and why we are 'programmed' to imagine stories in these ways, and how they relate to the inmost patterns of human psychology."






Writers' and Artists' Guide: How To Write


The Writers' and Artists' books are a modern day authority on writing. Heed them well.


"This book is all about writing for publication. It shows you how to plan, create and edit work that will sell. How to write a book that you'll be proud of - and which might yet launch you on a new career. Crammed with examples (positive and negative) from successful authors, this essential guide is for writers of every genre: fiction and narrative non-fiction, literary and commercial, adults and children. This guide tells you how to: - Understand your market - Plan your novel or memoir - Develop strong, empathetic characters - Structure and maintain a compelling plot - Ensure that your prose style is strong enough to carry your story - Polish your work until it shines - and much more."












Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell


How does plot influence story structure? What's the difference between plotting for commercial and literary fiction? How do you revise a plot or structure that's gone off course? Award-winning author James Scott Bell offers clear, concise information that will help you create a believable and memorable plot, including:


  • Techniques for crafting strong beginnings, middles, and ends
  • Easy-to-understand plotting diagrams and charts
  • Brainstorming techniques for original plot ideas
  • Thought-provoking exercises at the end of each chapter
  • Story structure models and methods for all genres
  • Tips and tools for correcting common plot problems



Writers' and Artists' Guide: How To Write

The Writers' and Artists' books are a modern day authority on writing. Heed them well.

"This book is all about writing for publication. It shows you how to plan, create and edit work that will sell. How to write a book that you'll be proud of - and which might yet launch you on a new career. Crammed with examples (positive and negative) from successful authors, this essential guide is for writers of every genre: fiction and narrative non-fiction, literary and commercial, adults and children. This guide tells you how to: - Understand your market - Plan your novel or memoir - Develop strong, empathetic characters - Structure and maintain a compelling plot - Ensure that your prose style is strong enough to carry your story - Polish your work until it shines - and much more."

FOR CHILDREN'S WRITERS - It's a whole different world!



Writing for Children by Pamela Cleaver

"If you want to write because you have wonderful ideas that excite you, that you want to share with children, then you should go ahead and write it. There is no one right way to write a children's book but if you are armed with a knowledge of certain techniques that have worked for other writers you will be more likely to succeed. This new edition combines Pamela Cleaver's bestselling Writing a Children's Book with her Ideas for Children's Writers. In it you will learn about plotting and planning, beginnings, middles and endings, how to research and how to revise and how to find a publisher. There are: - Lists of attributes to help you create interesting and believable characters - Lists of plots and themes - Genres - what's hot and what's not - Locations and how much description to use - List of do's and don'ts regarding submitting manuscripts - Symbols for correcting your proofs - Tips on how to publicise your book and more."












Writers' and Artists' Guide: Writing Children's Fiction

As I said before the Writers' and Artists' peeps are at the forefront of modern publishing. Herein lies the most up-to-date information.

"Full of both inspirational and practical advice, Writing Children's Fiction is an essential guide to writing for some of the most difficult and demanding readers of all: children and young people. Part 1 explores the nature, history and challenges of children's literature, and the amazing variety of genres available for children from those learning to read to young adults.

Part 2 includes tips by such bestselling authors as David Almond, Malorie Blackman, Meg Rosoff and Michael Morpurgo. Part 3 contains practical advice - from shaping plots and creating characters to knowing your readers, handling difficult subjects and how to find an agent and publisher when your book or story is complete."









PRACTICAL WRITING - you need to know this stuff!

English Grammar Workbook for Dummies


What better way to test your skills than by testing them! Do the homework. Take the tests. Learn your craft properly!


"The clear–cut information and handy tips in this grammar First Aid kit is for anyone wanting to perfect their English and develop the practical skills needed to write and speak correctly. Each chapter focuses on key grammatical principles with easy–to–follow theory and examples, followed by practice questions and explanations. This workbook shows you how to dodge common mistakes and get it right, every time!"






The Elements of Style

The classic style manual. This book's unique tone, wit and charm has been conveying the principles of English style to writers for nearly 100 years!


The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. is a prescriptive American English writing style guide comprising eight "elementary rules of usage", ten "elementary principles of composition", "a few matters of form", a list of forty-nine "words and expressions commonly misused", and a list of fifty-seven "words often misspelled". In 2011, Time magazine listed The Elements of Style as one of the 100 best and most influential books written in English since 1923.

The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. is a prescriptive American English writing style guide comprising eight "elementary rules of usage", ten "elementary principles of composition", "a few matters of form", a list of forty-nine "words and expressions commonly misused", and a list of fifty-seven "words often misspelled". In 2011, Time magazine listed The Elements of Style as one of the 100 best and most influential books written in English since 1923.
"The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. is a prescriptive American English writing style guide comprising eight "elementary rules of usage", ten "elementary principles of composition", "a few matters of form", a list of forty-nine "words and expressions commonly misused", and a list of fifty-seven "words often misspelled". In 2011, Time magazine listed The Elements of Style as one of the 100 best and most influential books written in English since 1923."




The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. is a prescriptive American English writing style guide comprising eight "elementary rules of usage", ten "elementary principles of composition", "a few matters of form", a list of forty-nine "words and expressions commonly misused", and a list of fifty-seven "words often misspelled". In 2011, Time magazine listed The Elements of Style as one of the 100 best and most influential books written in English since 1923.










REFERENCE - Books to keep handy when writing




Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors

"The New Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors is the essential A-Z guide for everyone who works with words. Drawing on the expertise of the Oxford Dictionaries department, it provides authoritative advice on those words and names which raise questions time after time because of spelling, capitalization, hyphenation, or cultural or historical context. An indispensable part of any editor's reference shelf."













New Hart's Rules

"New Hart's Rules provides answers to questions of editorial style for a new generation of professionals. Writers and editors of all kinds will find this handy guide an indispensable companion in their work. Twenty chapters give information on all aspects of writing and of preparing copy for publication, whether in print or electronically. It covers a broad range of topics including publishing terms, layout and headings, how to treat illustrations, hyphenation, punctuation, UK and US usage, bibliographies and notes, and indexing."





FOR LATER - when you are ready to submit your book



From Pitch to Publication by Carolyn Blake

This book was originally published in 1999 and I worry it is starting to date but there are still a lot of people in the industry - especially at the top - who still adhere to the thinking of this time.

"This book is the insider's guide to getting published successfully. The secret to making money from your fiction writing is not only in the quality of your work but also your approach to the publishing process: in this book an industry professional shows how to make the system work for you. Advice is here from almost the moment you pick up the pen - identifying the market for your work - to working constructively with your author or agent, safeguarding your rights, negotiating and understanding contracts, and understanding how you book will actually be sold. "From Pitch to Publication" is the complete guide to presenting yourself effectively to publishers, and navigating the periods before and after publication for continuing success."




FOR LATER - when you are ready to submit your book




From Pitch to Publication by Carolyn Blake


This book was originally published in 1999 and I worry it is starting to date but there are still a lot of people in the industry - especially at the top - who still adhere to the thinking of this time.


"This book is the insider's guide to getting published successfully. The secret to making money from your fiction writing is not only in the quality of your work but also your approach to the publishing process: in this book an industry professional shows how to make the system work for you. Advice is here from almost the moment you pick up the pen - identifying the market for your work - to working constructively with your author or agent, safeguarding your rights, negotiating and understanding contracts, and understanding how you book will actually be sold. "From Pitch to Publication" is the complete guide to presenting yourself effectively to publishers, and navigating the periods before and after publication for continuing success."



FOR LATER - when you are ready to submit your book



From Pitch to Publication by Carolyn Blake

This book was originally published in 1999 and I worry it is starting to date but there are still a lot of people in the industry - especially at the top - who still adhere to the thinking of this time.

"This book is the insider's guide to getting published successfully. The secret to making money from your fiction writing is not only in the quality of your work but also your approach to the publishing process: in this book an industry professional shows how to make the system work for you. Advice is here from almost the moment you pick up the pen - identifying the market for your work - to working constructively with your author or agent, safeguarding your rights, negotiating and understanding contracts, and understanding how you book will actually be sold. "From Pitch to Publication" is the complete guide to presenting yourself effectively to publishers, and navigating the periods before and after publication for continuing success."
© Kelley Townley. Awesome profile pic by the Australian artist Chris Booth and used with permission.