Saturday, May 19, 2012

Books on Writing

I'll be the first to admit that my writing could use improvement--and a lot of it. And, while there's plenty to be said for gluing yourself to a chair and typing until your writing improves, there's a lot more to be said for using the writing resources that others have already created. So in today's post I've listed some of the major books on writing that have helped me in my writing journey.

Yes, I know what you're thinking -- more books to read? Well, think about it this way: it's an investment into your writing and yourself. And, what's more, you don't need to buy these books (that's what libraries are for!). Once you get them, just read them a little at a time (a chapter every evening, for example) or skim them for the most helpful parts. Don't be overwhelmed; check out the links and bookmark them/write them on your library list for future reference!

Now, without further ado, my writing resource list:

Techniques of the Selling Writer, by Dwight Swain (I also have a blog post on it here.)

Writing Fiction for Dummies, by Randall Ingermannson

Live Writing, How Writers Work, and A Writer's Notebook, by Ralph Fletcher (They're written for young writers, but still have plenty of wisdom for the rest of us.)

The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White

Plot & Structure, by James Scott Bell

Stein on Writing, by Sol Stein

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Brown and Dave King

Outlining Your Novel, by K. M. Weiland (Even if you don't enjoy outlining, read this book, and you may be surprised.)

Getting into Character, by Brandylin Collins

The Art of Fiction, by John Gardner

Story, by Robert McKee (Essential for all writers of screenplay, and good for the rest of us too.)

Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maass

Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly, by Gail Carson Levine

Seize the Story, by Victoria Hanley

For fantasy writers in particular, I highly recommend reading J.R.R. Tolkien's essay "On Faerie Stories" (from Tolkien's Tales from the Perilous Realm). I also recommend Orson Scott Card's How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy.

For poetry writers (yes! at last!), I absolutely love Mary Oliver's A Poetry Handbook and Ted Kooser's The Poetry Home Repair Manual. Both are invaluable to any aspiring poet.

Now it's your turn: what books on writing and/or writing resources have you found to be most helpful?


  1. On Writing by Steven King. Not that I read Steven King's fiction, but this non-fiction was incredibly helpful. It helped me with loosening up and being free to write first drafts without trying to make it all perfect the first time through. There are always second and third drafts. :) Thanks for the link to Tolkein's essay. I'm going to go read that one.

    1. Good call! After all, when one of the masters of literature writes a book on writing, we'd better listen up! This is one book that I haven't yet managed to read, despite digging desperately through library bookshelves trying to find it. I suppose I'd better just fork over the cash and buy it one of these days!

      Thanks :)

  2. Oh why doesn't my library do writing books? Seriously, we have none of these books. My writing will be forever stunted. Haha, I'll just have to find them some other way.

    1. I feel totally the same way! It's crazy how few libraries really have many good books on writing. Personally, I wouldn't have had a chance to read some of these books except that a friend gave them to me (one of those: "You're a writer. Take them!" cases). I discovered, though, love having those books for myself as easy references. So perhaps one of these days I'd better just buy all the books on my list!

  3. Hey Sienna, congratulations! You've been awarded The Booker Award by me. You can see the details at my blog, here:


    1. Thank you so very much, Sarah! I'm quite honored :) . Even though "booker" sounds like "bookie," which none of us would want to identify as! And, alas, it's true, we don't dwell in the normal world very much, do we?

      Thanks again! And congratulations yourself :)

  4. I love writing, so I'll have to look up some of these books!! Thanks, Sienna! And I've awarded you over at my blog!

    1. Why thank you so much, Kiri! It's such a pleasure to get to meet such friendly and knowledgeable bloggers as you :) . One of my favorite parts of blogging! And do check out those books--they're really good!

  5. Good!This post is creative,you'll find a lot of new idea,it gives me inspiration.I believe I will also inspired by you and feel about extra new ideas.thanks.
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    1. Thanks very much, Andreas! Let me know if you have any suggestions for other books to add to the list.


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