Saturday, October 3, 2009

Books On Writing

“You can’t teach someone to write fiction.” 

-- Comment made by an experienced author when asked if they could recommend a good creative writing course for aspiring writers.  

After I poked pins into the doll I made in his likeness, I read these books on writing.  They’ve served me well. 

On Writing by Stephen King
As entertaining as it is educational, contains excellent info on the mechanics of writing as well as encouragement on enjoying the journey.

The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman
Written by a literary agent in New York, outlines the common mistakes that get manuscripts rejected.

The Plot Thickens by Noah Lukeman
This one is less about what not to do and more about breathing life into your manuscript.

The Romance Writers Handbook by Rebecca Vinyard
Explains what makes a winning romance as well as info on archetypal characters, subgenres, contracts, queries, synopsis writing and more.

Self –Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne & King
After I finished the first draft of my novel, this book gave me some priceless advice on fixing it up.

Eats, Shoots, & Leaves by Lynne Truss
This book is the equivalent of mixing medicine in applesauce.  No one likes grammar but Lynne Truss makes it as palatable as possible.

The Elements of Style by Strunk and White
Everyone should have one.

Do you have a favorite book that has improved your writing?  If so, I would love to hear from you.


  1. Yes. Related to my comment on your "Psychology of Creativity" post... Dorothy Sayers, "The Mind of the Maker"

    Worth it's weight in gold. It has influenced my art and design work, even though she writes from her experience as a playwright and mystery novelist. The metaphors she uses to relate the creative process and the relationship between author, character, and story come from --surprisingly-- the Nicean Creed.

    At first, you think, "What does this have to do with novels?" Then you go, "WOA!"

    In my opinion, she knows more about the creative process than any professor of design I have ever had. Brilliant.

  2. Nice site, Gen!

    I'd have to add two books to your list:

    Rita Mae Brown's Starting From Scratch: A Different Kind of Writers' Manual. She shares her extensive knowledge of the writing process and language with her sharp wit and biting sense of humor. Sui Generis. "Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work."

    The second book is Spunk & Bite: A Writer's Guide to Bold, Contemporary Style by Arthur Plotnik. It's a take off on the iconic rule book, but focuses on enlivening ones writing.

    Jen Johnson


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