77 Best Books for Fiction Writers You Must Own

Updated July 19, 2021 by Iulian Ionescu | Read Time min.
best fiction writing books

Writing is an art form, and just like any art form, it requires work, dedication, and study. Every writer needs to learn the craft, improve their technique, develop their style and voice, and do all of these continuously during their writing career. It’s not an easy thing to do, but it is made somewhat easier by the resources available on the market.

Best Fiction Writing Books

There are thousands of books on fiction writing, but some of them stand out. They excel in delivery, presentation, uniqueness, and some even captivate you in a way that makes it sound almost non-fiction. As a writer myself, I have come to read these books, cherish them, and have them become my go-to every time I feel I need a push.

I strongly believe that the great information available to us in these books written by masters of the craft is essential. I think that reading those words repeatedly, from different perspectives and with different attitudes, cements those ideas in your head and helps you become a better writer.

The Collection

So, I decided to gather all the books that I own and read on the writing craft into an ongoing collection. As time goes by, I will slowly review all of these books and give you my own perspective on every one of them. The collection is ordered by type and is kept on a separate page, which gets updated from time to time.

All I ask you is this: if you know of a fiction-writing book that is not on my list and you feel it belongs there, let me know. I promise I will buy it, read it and review it if I find it worthy.

I also ask you to help spread this information by sharing either this post or the page itself. You can post links on your blog or simply bookmark them on your favorite social media networks.

Basic Elements of Fiction

 

1

45 Master Characters45 Master Characters
Victoria Schmidt

45 Master Characters will make your characters and their stories more compelling, complex, and original than ever before. You’ll explore the most common male and female archetypes—the mythic, cross-cultural models from which all characters originate—and learn how to use them as foundations for your own unique characters.

2

Building Believable CharactersBuilding Believable Characters
Marc McCutcheon

Using this reference, readers can create characters who think, hope, love, cry, cause or feel pain, save the day – and seize readers’ emotions. Mark McCutcheon eases the process of building convincing characters for stories and novels. He starts conducting an inspiring and informative roundtable where six novelists reveal their approaches to characterization.

3

Characters & ViewpointCharacters & Viewpoint
Orson Scott Card

This book is a set of tools: literary crowbars, chisels, mallets, pliers, and tongs. Use them to pry, chip, yank, and sift good characters out of the place where they live in your imagination. Award-winning author Orson Scott Card explains in depth the techniques of inventing, developing, and presenting characters, plus handling viewpoints in novels and short stories.

4

Creating Character EmotionsCreating Character Emotions
Ann Hood

Creating Character Emotions will help writers find vivid ways to express emotion in their fiction. In 36 lessons, Ann Hood sheds new light on love, hate, fear, grief, guilt, hope, jealousy, and other emotional states.

5

Getting into CharacterGetting into Character
Brandilyn Collins

Proven techniques for creating vivid, believable characters. Want to bring characters to life on the page as vividly as fine actors do on the stage or screen? Getting into Character will give you a whole new way of thinking about your writing. Drawing on the Method acting theory that theater professionals have used for decades, this in-depth guide explains seven characterization techniques and adapts them for the novelist’s use.

6

The Complete Guide to Heroes and HeroinesThe Complete Guide to Heroes and Heroines
Tami Cowden

Many books attempt to show writers how to create believable characters. This one is unlike the majority: it specifically identifies 16 “master archetypes,” complete with thumbnail sketches and descriptions of specific qualities, flaws, background, styles, and possible occupations.

7

DescriptionDescription
Monica Wood

A description is most powerful when it’s visible, aural, tactile. Make your descriptions fresh, and they’ll move your story forward, imbue your work with atmosphere, create that tang of feeling that editors cry for and readers crave. Monica Wood helps you squeeze the greatest flavor from the language. She segments the description like an orange, separating its slices to let you sample each one.

8

DialogueDialogue
Gloria Kempton

When should your character talk, what should (or shouldn’t) he say, and when should he say it? How do you know when dialogue–or the lack thereof–is dragging down your scene? How do you fix a character who speaks without the laconic wit of the Terminator? Write Great Fiction: Dialogue successful author and instructor Gloria Kempton has the answers to all of these questions and more!

9

Writing DialogueWriting Dialogue
Tom Chiarella

Characters need to speak to each other, but writers often have trouble crafting dialogue that sounds authentic and original. Whether it’s an argument or a love scene, Chiarella demonstrates how to write exchanges that sound realistic.

10

Blockbuster Plots: Pure & SimpleBlockbuster Plots: Pure & Simple
Martha Alderson

Blockbuster Plots Pure and Simple (BBP) shows the plot rather than talking about it. Using two unique step-by-step visual tools for developing and deepening scenes and plot, BBP shows how the pros layer three distinct yet overlapping plotlines – Character Emotional Development, Dramatic Action, and Thematic Plot. When the dramatic action changes the character at depth over time, the story becomes thematically significant.

11

Novelist Novelist’s Essential Guide to Crafting Plot
J Madison Davis

This book covers the most popular element among our fiction-writing audience: plot. Appealing to novelists of any stripe. The Novelist’s Essential Guide to Creating Plot allows readers to focus on and examine the structure of the novel in depth – either one they’re currently working on or one that they are planning.

12

PlotPlot
Ansen Dibell

“There are ways to create, fix, steer and discover plots – ways which, over a writing life, you’d eventually puzzle out for yourself,” writes Ansen Dibell. “They aren’t laws. They’re an array of choices, things to try, once you’ve put a name to the particular problem you’re facing now.” That’s what this book is about: identifying those choices (whose viewpoint? stop and explain now, or wait? how can this lead to that?), then learning what narrative problems they are apt to create and how to choose an effective strategy for solving them. The result? Strong, solid stories and novels that move.

13

The Plot ThickensThe Plot Thickens
Noah Lukeman

As a literary agent, Noah Lukeman hears thousands of book pitches a year. Often the stories sound great in concept but never live up to their potential on the page. Lukeman shows beginning and advanced writers how to implement the fundamentals of successful plot development, such as character building and heightened suspense and conflict. Writers will find it impossible to walk away from this invaluable guide—a veritable fiction-writing workshop—without boundless new ideas.

14

Plot vs CharacterPlot vs. Character
Jeff Gerke

What’s more important to a story: a gripping plot or compelling characters? Literary-minded novelists argue in favor of character-based novels. In contrast, commercial novelists argue in favor of plot-based stories, but the truth of the matter is this: The best fiction is rich in both. Enter Plot Versus Character. This hands-on guide to creating a well-rounded novel embraces both of these crucial story components.

15

SettingSetting
Jack Bickham

Even with great characters, a gripping plot, and outstanding dialogue, a story isn’t complete without the appropriate setting—the unifying element in most fiction. Jack Bickham shows how to use sensual detail, vivid language, and keen observations to craft settings that help tell credible, interesting stories and heighten dramatic and thematic effects.

16

Description & SettingDescription & Setting
Ron Rozelle

How essential is the setting to a story? How much description is too much? In what ways do details and setting tie into plot and character development? How can you use setting and description to add depth to your story? You can find all the answers you need in Write Great Fiction: Description & Setting author and instructor Ron Rozelle.

17

Beginnings, Middles & EndsBeginnings, Middles & Ends
Nancy Kress

Get Your Readers’ Attention — And Keep It — From the First World to the Final Page. Translating that initial flash of inspiration into a complete story requires careful crafting. So how do you keep your story from beginning slowly, floundering midway, and trailing off at the end? Nancy Kress shows you effective solutions for potential problems at each stage of your story—essential lessons for strong start-to-finish storytelling.

18

Conflict, Action & SuspenseConflict, Action & Suspense
William Noble

What makes a book a page-turner? How do you grab your readers right from the start and hold them through the last sentence? How do you make your plot twist and turn and keep the action moving without losing continuity? You do it by generating drama and developing it using conflict, action, and suspense. You make your reader burn to know what’s going to happen next. You create tension…and build it…to the breaking point.

19

Immediate FictionImmediate Fiction
Jerry Cleaver

From the legendary creator of the Writer’s Loft in Chicago comes a writing course for those who want to see results now. Immediate Fiction covers the entire writing process, including manuscript preparation, time management, finding an idea, getting words on the page, staying unblocked, and submitting to agents and publishers. With insightful tips and advice, Jerry Cleaver helps writers manage doubts, fears, blocks, and panic while helping to develop their writing in minutes a day. A practical and accessible resource, this book has everything the aspiring writer needs to write and sell novels, short stories, screenplays, and stage plays.

20

Make a Scene: Crafting a powerful StoryMake a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story
Jordan Rosenfeld

In Make a Scene, author Jordan E. Rosenfeld takes you through the fundamentals of strong scene construction and explains how other essential fiction-writing techniques, such as character, plot, and dramatic tension, must function within the framework of individual scenes to provide substance and structure to the overall story.

21

Plot & StructurePlot & Structure
James Scott Bell

How does the 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? With Write Great Fiction: Plot & Structure, you’ll discover the answers to these questions and more. Award-winning author James Scott Bell offers clear, concise information that will help you create a believable and memorable plot.

22

Scene & StructureScene & Structure
Jack Bickham

An imprisoned man receives an unexpected caller, after which “everything changed…” And the reader is hooked. But whether or not readers will stay on for the entire wild ride will depend on how well the writer structures the story, scene by scene. This book is your game plan for success. Using dozens of examples from his own work – including Dropshot, Tiebreaker, and other popular novels – Jack M. Bickham will guide you in building a sturdy framework for your novel, whatever its form
or length.

23

The Scene BookThe Scene Book
Sandra Scofield

The Scene Book is a fundamental guide to crafting more effective scenes in fiction. In clear, simple language, Sandra Scofield shows both the beginner and the seasoned writer how to build better scenes, the underpinning of any good narrative.

24

Finding your Writer Finding your Writer’s Voice
Thaisa Frank

An illuminating guide to finding one’s most powerful writing tool, Finding Your Writer’s Voice helps writers learn to hear the voices that are uniquely their own. Mixing creative inspiration with practical advice about craft, the book includes chapters on Accessing raw voice, Working in the first and third person: discovering a narrative persona, Using voice to create characters, and more.

25

Make your words workMake your words work
Gary Provost

Gary Provost practices what he preaches in Make Your Words Work. He helps you learn to write well by, among other things, writing well himself—his warm, witty, entertaining instruction teams with solid examples as well as exercises. Get the good word now. This is the writing course to help you make your work more powerful, readable, and salable.

26

Showing and TellingShowing and Telling
Laurie Alberts

“Show–don’t tell.” How many times have you heard this standard bit of writing advice? It’s so common in writing courses and critiques that it has become a cliche?. Writers are often told to write scenes, dramatize, cut exposition, cut summary–but it’s misguided advice. The truth is good writing almost always requires both showing and telling. The trick is finding the right balance of scene and summary–the two basic components of creative prose.

27

Spunk & BiteSpunk & Bite
Arthur Plotnik

Today’s writer needs more than just a solid knowledge of usage and composition to write successfully. Bestselling author Arthur Plotnik reveals the secrets to attention-grabbing, unforgettable writing in this trade paperback edition. Updated with all-new writing exercises, Spunk & Bite will help writers take books, articles, business reports, memos, and even e-mail messages to the next level.

28

The Power of Point of ViewThe Power of Point of View
Alicia Rasley

Point of view isn’t just an element of storytelling–when chosen carefully and employed consistently in a work of fiction, it is the foundation of a captivating story.

Writing Craft

 

29

A Guide to Writing Novels and be publishedA Guide to Writing Novels and be published
Bob Mayer

Here’s the book writers have been waiting for! Covering every aspect of the creative journey, Living the Writing Life shows readers how to: Develop salable ideas, turn ideas into stories, set a writing schedule and stick to it, conduct accurate research, dissect best-sellers to discover what makes them work, develop compelling characters and plot, and a lot more.

30

A writer A writer’s reference
Diana Hacker

A Writer’s Reference is the most widely adopted college handbook ever published. The new edition is available in a classic version that provides more help with academic writing, serves a wider range of multilingual students, and lends more support for college research — all in an easy-to-use quick-reference format. Now for all the ways you teach your course, you can choose the classic version or choose from among 4 additional versions with varied content.

31

Art of War for WritersArt of War for Writers
James Scott Bell

Successfully starting and finishing a publishable novel is often like fighting a series of battles. You not only have to work hard to shape memorable characters, develop gripping plots, and craft dazzling dialogue, but you also have to fight against self-doubts and fears. And then there’s the challenge of learning to navigate the ever-changing publishing industry. That’s why best-selling novelist James Scott Bell, author of the Write Great Fiction staples Plot & Structure and Revision & Self-Editing, came up with the ultimate novel-writing battle plan: The Art of War for Writers.

32

Dare to be a great writerDare to be a great writer
Leonard Bishop

Solid, no-nonsense writing instruction, dispensed out in 329 easily digestible portions, helps fiction writers polish their skills and support their talent with a cultivated craft.

33

Essential Guide to WritingEssential Guide to Writing
Thomas S Kane

34

Fiction Writer Fiction Writer’s Workshop
Josip Novakovich

The great paradox of the writing life is that to be a good writer, you must be both interested in the world around you and comfortable working in solitude for hours. Fiction Writer’s Workshop, Second Edition, is designed to help you foster a strong sense of independence—of being and thinking on your own, becoming self-evaluative without being self-critical—to accomplish what others seek in classroom groups.

35

First 50 PagesFirst 50 Pages
Jeff Gerke

Whether you’re looking to get published or just hoping to hook your reader, first impressions are vital. Compelling opening scenes are the key to catching an agent or editor’s attention and are crucial for keeping your reader engaged. As a writer, what you do in your opening pages, and how you do it is a matter that cannot be left to chance. The First 50 Pages is here to help you craft a strong beginning right from the start.

36

Hooked: Write Fiction That GrabsHooked: Write Fiction That Grabs
Les Edgerton

The road to rejection is paved with bad beginnings. Agents and editors agree: Improper story beginnings are the single biggest barrier to publication. Why? If a novel or short story has a bad beginning, then no one will keep reading. It’s just that simple. In Hooked, author Les Edgerton draws on his experience as a successful fiction writer and teacher to help you overcome the weak openings that lead to instant rejection showing you how to successfully use the ten core components inherent to any great beginning.

37

How to write a damn good novelHow to write a damn good novel
James Frey

Written in a clear, crisp, accessible style, this book is perfect for beginners and professional writers who need a crash course in the down-to-earth basics of storytelling. Talent and inspiration can’t be taught, but Frey does provide scores of helpful suggestions and sensible rules and principles. An international bestseller, How to Write a Damn Good Novel, will enable all writers to face that intimidating first page, keep them on track when they falter, and help them recognize, analyze, and correct the problems in their own work.

38

Keys to Great WritingKeys to Great Writing
Steven Wilbers

Entertaining and interactive lessons this versatile guide will encourage writers to test their knowledge, learn new techniques, and pay attention to detail.

39

Little Red Writing BookLittle Red Writing Book
Brandon Royal

There’s no need to fear the big, bad world of writing with The Little Red Writing Book in hand. Brimming with clever advice, this book offers writers, students, and business professionals a concise guide to penning strong and effective work for all occasions.

40

Techniques for the Selling WriterTechniques for the Selling Writer
Dwight Swain

This book provides solid instruction for people who want to write and sell fiction, not just talking and studying it. It gives the background, insights, and specific procedures needed by all beginning writers. Here, one can learn how to group words into copy that moves, movement into scenes, and scenes into stories, develop characters, revise and polish, and finally sell the product.

41

The Art of FictionThe Art of Fiction
John Gardner

“John Gardner was famous for his generosity to young writers, and (this book) is his . . . gift to them. The Art of Fiction will fascinate anyone interested in how fiction gets put together. For the young writer, it will become a necessary handbook, a stern judge, an encouraging friend.”–The New York Times Book Review.

42

The Book on WritingThe Book on Writing
Paula LaRocque

Teaches the elements of good writing through essential guidelines, literary techniques, and proper writing mechanics.

43

The Complete Handbook of Novel WritingThe Complete Handbook of Novel Writing
WD Editors

In The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, 2nd Edition, you’ll learn from the invaluable advice of established writers. Discover new ways to generate ideas, implement intriguing techniques, and find the inspiration you need to finish your work. This fully-revised edition includes a revamped marketing section covering the unique challenges of today’s publishing market and the boundless opportunities for online promotion.

44

The Courage to WriteThe Courage to Write
Ralph Keyes

Katherine Anne Porter called courage “the first essential” for a writer. “I have to talk myself into bravery with every sentence,” agreed Cynthia Ozick, “sometimes every syllable.” E. B. White said he admired anyone who “has the guts to write anything at all.” An author who has taught writing for more than thirty years, Ralph Keyes assures readers that anxiety is felt by writers at every level and can be harnessed to produce honest and disciplined work., Keyes offers specifics on making the best use of writers’ workshops and conferences and handling criticism of works in progress; he also exposes the most common “false fear busters” (needing new equipment, a better setting, a new agent). Throughout, he includes the comments of many accomplished writers–Pat Conroy, Amy Tan, Rita Dove, Isabel Allende, and others–on how they transcended their own anxieties to produce great works.

45

The First Five PagesThe First Five Pages
Noah Lukeman

Whether you are a novice writer or a veteran who has already had your work published, rejection is often a frustrating reality. Literary agents and editors receive and reject hundreds of manuscripts each month. While it’s the job of these publishing professionals to be discriminating, it’s the writer’s job to produce a manuscript that immediately stands out among the vast competition. And those outstanding qualities, says New York literary agent Noah Lukeman, have to be apparent from the first five pages.

46

The Writer The Writer’s Book of Hope
Ralph Keyes

The anxiety of rejection is an inevitable part of any writer’s development. In this book, Ralph Keyes turns his attention from the difficulty of putting pen to paper—the subject of his acclaimed The Courage to Write—to the frustration of getting the product to the public. Inspiration isn’t nearly as important to the successful writer, he argues, as tenacity, and he offers concrete ways to manage the struggle to publish. Drawing on his long experience as a writer and teacher of writing, Keyes provides new insight into publishers’ mindset, the value of an agent, and the importance of encouragement and hope to the act of authorial creation.

47

The Writer The Writer’s Compass
Nancy Ellen Dodd

This book will show writers how to develop their ideas into a finished novel working through it in 7 stages while learning how to map out their story’s progress and structure to evaluate and improve their work. It teaches writers to visualize their story’s progress with a story map that helps them see all the different components of their story, where these components are going, and, perhaps most importantly, what’s missing.

48

The Writer The Writer’s Journey
Christopher Vogler

See why this book has become an international bestseller and a true classic. The Writer’s Journey explores the powerful relationship between mythology and storytelling in a clear, concise style that’s made it required reading for movie executives, screenwriters, playwrights, scholars, and fans of pop culture over the world. The updated and revised third edition provides new insights and observations from Vogler’s ongoing work on mythology’s influence on stories, movies, and man himself.

49

Writing Fiction for All You Writing Fiction for All You’re Worth
by
James Scott Bell

WRITING FICTION FOR ALL YOU’RE WORTH contains the best of James Scott Bell’s articles and blog posts on writing, easily searchable under these headings: The Writing World, The Writing Life, and The Writing Craft. You’ll learn about the 6 critical success factors for bestselling fiction, how to write un-put-downable action scenes, and how to capture the interest of an agent. The keys to a dynamic opening page are revealed, and just as important, what NOT to do in the opening. There’s plenty of inside information on what agents and editors say they’re looking for and detailed instructions on how to write a stress-free query. You’ll learn what to put on your LAST page, when to use italics, how to write with courage.

50

Writing Fiction for DummiesWriting Fiction for Dummies
Randy Ingermanson

So you want to write a novel? Great! That’s a worthy goal, no matter what your reason. But don’t settle for just writing a novel—Aim high. Write a novel that you intend to sell to a publisher. Writing Fiction for Dummies is a complete guide designed to coach you every step along the path from beginning writer to royalty-earning author.

51

Writing Skiils Success in 20 minutes a dayWriting Skills Success in 20 minutes a day
Various

Excellent writing skills are essential for getting high marks on standardized tests, succeeding in a wide range of jobs, and effectively communicating with others-but writing well isn’t a skill you’re born with-it must be practiced and applied to achieve optimal success. Writing Skills Success in 20 Minutes a Day helps you realize that success with a simple 20-step guide improves writing skills through quick, comprehensive lessons that can easily fit into your busy schedule. Each step takes just 20 minutes a day.

52

Writing the Breakout NovelWriting the Breakout Novel
Donald Maas

Maybe you’re a first-time novelist looking for practical guidance. Maybe you’ve already been published, but your latest effort is stuck in mid-list limbo. Whatever the case may be, author and literary agent Donald Maass can show you how to take your prose to the next level and write a breakout novel – one that rises out of obscurity and hits the best-seller lists. Maass details the elements that all breakout novels share – regardless of genre – then shows you writing techniques to make your own books stand out and succeed in a crowded marketplace.

53

You can write a NovelYou can write a Novel
James V Smith

Do you have an idea for a great novel? Have you always dreamed of writing a bestseller? Are you at a loss for where to start? Look no further. You Can Write a Novel, 2nd Edition, gives you concrete, proven techniques to get from idea to manuscript, to bookstore. Veteran author James V. Smith, Jr., breaks down the novel-writing process into ten logical steps. You’ll start building the foundation for your book right away, taking your story’s three most important incidents from brainstorm to final draft perfection.

54

Beginning Writer Beginning Writer’s Answer Book
by
Jane Friedman

This indispensable resource offers basic information that beginning writers in all genres need to know to further their craft and careers. Revised and updated for the new millennium, this book answers questions about the book and magazine marketplace. It provides in-depth answers to such questions as “How do I submit my work to an agent?” and “Can I submit my work to more than one publisher at a time?” Organized specific subject areas, this book is a must-have resource for the beginning
writer.

55

Writer Writer’s Little Helper
James V Smith

There is nothing little about the dynamic fiction-writing advice inside The Writer’s Little Helper. With big ideas, time-saving tips, and revision-made-easy charts, James V. Smith, Jr. offers effective guidance, in short, easy checklists, Q&As, and practical tools.

56

179 Ways to save a novel179 Ways to save a novel
Peter Selgin

Based on real advice gleaned from thousands of writing critiques, 179 Ways to Save a Novel is more than just a collection of ideas for troubleshooting your work-in-progress (though it has plenty of practical writing advice for fixing your novel). This inspiring guide doubles as a thoughtful examination of the writing life, not just the writing but also the reading habits and aspiring novelists’ thought processes.

57

Writing Tools Writing Tools
Roy Peter Clark

One of America’s most influential writing teachers offers a toolbox from which writers of all kinds can draw practical inspiration. WRITING TOOLS covers everything from the most basic (“Tool 5: Watch those adverbs”) to the more complex (“Tool 34: Turn your notebook into a camera”) and provides more than 200 examples from literature and journalism to illustrate the concepts. For students, aspiring novelists, and writers of memos, e-mails, PowerPoint presentations, and love letters, here are 50 indispensable, memorable, and usable tools.

Editing & Revision

 

58

Line Line: how to edit your own writingLine Line: how to edit your own writing
Claire Kehrwald Cook

The essential guide for all writers. With over 700 examples of original and edited sentences, this book provides information about editing techniques, grammar, and usage for every writer, from the student to the published author.

59

Revision and Self-EditingRevision and Self-Editing
James Scott Bell

Don’t let the revision process intimidate you any longer. Discover how to successfully transform your first draft into a polished final draft that readers won’t be able to forget. In Write Great Fiction: Revision & Self-Editing, James Scott Bell draws on his experience as a novelist and instructor to provide specific revision tips geared toward the first read-through, as well as targeted self-editing instruction focusing on the individual elements of a novel like plot, structure, characters, theme, voice, style, setting, and endings.

60

Self Editing for Fiction WritersSelf Editing for Fiction Writers
Renni Browne

Hundreds of books have been written on the art of writing. Here, at last, is a book by two professional editors to teach writers the techniques of the editing trade that turn promising manuscripts into published novels and short stories. In this completely revised and updated second edition, Renni Browne and Dave King teach you, the writer, how to apply the editing techniques they have developed to your own work. Chapters on dialogue, exposition, point of view, interior monologue,
and other techniques take you through the same processes an expert editor would go through to perfect your manuscript.

Style & Grammar

 

61

A Pocket Style GuideA Pocket Style Guide
Diana Hacker

The book’s completeness combined with its portability means that our students actually bring it to class and put it to use.’ – Leslie Johnson-Farris, Communication Department, Lansing Community College, USA ‘My students like the affordability, clarity, and coverage of everything they seem to need. Many say they will keep A Pocket Style Manual long after they graduate.’ – Richard Battaglia, California State University, USA.

62

The Elements of StyleThe Elements of Style
William Strunk Jr

You know the authors’ names. You recognize the title. You’ve probably used this book yourself. This is The Elements of Style, the classic style manual, now in a fourth edition. A new foreword by Roger Angell reminds readers that the advice of Strunk & White is as valuable today as when it was first offered. This book’s unique tone, wit, and charm have conveyed English-style principles to millions of readers. Use the fourth edition of “the little book” to make a big impact on your writing.

Vocabulary & Description

 

63

The Describer The Describer’s Dictionary
David Grambs

Have you ever found yourself grasping in vain for that ideal descriptive word lost somewhere within the misty recesses of your vocabulary? Or felt frustrated that an oddly shaped structure or pretty setting you wished to portray in writing didn’t quite translate clearly to paper? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then The Describer’s Dictionary is exactly the book you need. Open it, and you have not only just the right words but—bringing them to life—stellar literary examples of descriptive writing as well.

64

Word PaintingWord Painting
Rebecca McClanahan

Let Rebecca McClanahan guide you through an inspiring examination of description in its many forms. With her thoughtful instruction and engaging exercises, you’ll learn to develop your senses and powers of observation to uncover the rich, evocative words that accurately portray your mind’s images. McClanahan includes dozens of descriptive passages written by master poets and authors to illuminate the process. She also teaches you how to weave writing together using description as a unifying
thread.

Manuscript & Publishing

 

65

Formatting and Submitting your ManuscriptFormatting and Submitting your Manuscript
Chuck Sambuchino

Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript, 3rd edition, gives you all the information you need to craft a winning submission. Fully updated, this comprehensive resource now features more than 100 sample letters and manuscript pages, expanded instruction for electronic submissions, updated formatting and submitting guidelines, and new insider tips from top agents and editors.

66

Guide to Query LettersGuide to Query Letters
Wendy Burt

Anyone who’s researched the marketplace knows: The path to publication begins with your query letter. If your query is weak, unfocused, or uninspired, an editor or agent won’t even bother to request your article, novel manuscript, or nonfiction book proposal. But a well-crafted, compelling query sent to the right editor or agent is an essential sales tool for fiction writers and the most effective way for nonfiction writers to pre-sell your idea. In this book, professional freelance writer and magazine editor Wendy Burt-Thomas shares practical advice on crafting persuasive letters that connect with editors and agents and ultimately generate sales for you.

67

The Sell Your Book ToolkitThe Sell Your Book Toolkit
Elizabeth Lyon

Writers often spend years perfecting their first novel—then hit a dead end when it comes to getting it published. Learning to market your novel will make it stand out from the thousands of other books clamoring for the attention of an ever-shrinking number of publishers. In this book, Elizabeth Lyon offers the wisdom of more than twenty years of experience as an author, book editor, writing instructor, and marketing consultant. Step-by-step, she details what editors want, what questions to ask them, and how to develop a marketing strategy.

68

How to write a great query letterHow to write a great query letter
Noah Lukeman

Many books have been written about query letters. But few have been written literary agents, who receive thousands of queries each year and grapple with them daily. Even fewer books have been written by literary agents who are currently active, willing to write from the trenches and offer their perspective on why they reject query letters, and why they accept them.

Other Writing Tips

 

69

Bird BirdBird Bird
Anne Lamott

“Thirty years ago, my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”

70

On WritingOn Writing
Stephen King

“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class, one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery.

71

Stein on WritingStein on Writing
Sol Stein

Stein on Writing provides immediately useful advice for all fiction and nonfiction writers, whether they are newcomers or old hands, students or instructors, amateurs or professionals. As the always clear and direct Stein explains here, “This is not a book of theory. It is a book of usable solutions—how to fix flawed writing, how to improve good writing, how to create interesting writing in the first place.” With examples from bestsellers and students’ drafts, Stein offers detailed sections on characterization, dialogue, pacing, flashbacks, trimming away flabwording, the so-called “triage” method of revision, using fiction techniques to enliven nonfiction, and more.

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Writing Down the BonesWriting Down the Bones
Natalie Goldberg

With insight, humor, and practicality, Natalie Goldberg inspires writers and would-be writers to leap into writing skillfully and creatively. She offers suggestions, encouragement, and solid advice on many aspects of the writer’s craft: on writing from “first thoughts” (keep your hand moving, don’t cross out, just get it on paper), on listening (writing is ninety percent listening; the deeper you listen, the better you write), on using verbs (verbs provide the energy of the sentence), on overcoming doubts (doubt is torture; don’t listen to it)—even on choosing a restaurant in which to write.

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Zen in the art of writingZen in the art of writing
Ray Bradbury

The third edition of Bradbury’s much-loved classic adds three new exuberant essays on the pleasures of writing from one of the most creative, imaginative, and prolific artists of the 20th century–an author who truly enjoys his craft and tells you why and how.

SciFi & Fantasy Specific

 

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How to write Science Fiction and FantasyHow to write Science Fiction and Fantasy
Orson Scott Card

This award-winning classic on the art and craft of writing science fiction and fantasy provides invaluable advice for every science fiction and fantasy writer interested in constructing stories about people, worlds, and events that stretch the boundaries of the possible – and the magical. They’ll learn what is and isn’t science fiction and fantasy and where their story fits in the mix. How to build, populate, and dramatize a credible, inviting world readers will want to explore. Where are the markets, how to reach them and get published? There’s no better source of information for writers working in these genres.

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Writer Writer’s Guide to Creating a Sci-Fi Universe
George Ochoa

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Writing Science Fiction and FantasyWriting Science Fiction and Fantasy
Crawford Kilian

Are you struggling to get started on your science fiction or fantasy novel? Written a successful author of more than ten science fiction and fantasy novels, Writing Science and Fantasy takes an in-depth look at these two best-selling genres. Kilian delves into science fiction and fantasy’s origins and conventions and goes over the many subgenres, including nanotechnology, space opera, and sword and sorcery.

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Writing Science Fiction that SellsWriting Science Fiction that Sells
Ben Bova

Guides writers step by step through the major elements of SF storytelling, showing how to construct strong, editor-attracting stories and novels.

Enjoy!

Now, before you go, I have…

3 Questions For You

  1. What are your top five books on fiction writing?
  2. What are some of the critical learnings you got from books on writing?
  3. If you ever wrote a book on writing, what subject would you approach?

Please share your answers in the comments below. Sharing knowledge helps us all improve and get better!

iulian-ionescu


Tags

writing resources, writing tips


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