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Helpful Writing Books

I recently took an informal survey on Twitter and asked writers to weigh in with their favorite writing craft books. In the span of 1 hour, I received approximately 40 suggestions. I've added more as people continue to share their favorites.

(If you click on the name of the book, it will take you to the Amazon page where you can read more about each book.)

Disclaimer: I do not endorse all of the books on the list.

However, I've read quite a number of them and have many in my personal library. What I suggest is that you check the books out from the library first (most libraries will have them or be able to get them through inter-library loan). Then if you really like the book, buy it, re-read it, and mark it up.

In a recent blog post, Does Putting in the Time Really Matter? I discussed the importance of mastering basic fiction-writing techniques. I said this: The writers who are well on their way to publication are the ones who’ve put concerted time and energy into learning, studying, and practicing the craft of writing.

Many of these books were foundational in helping me learning the basics. I hope the list will be helpful to you too!

If there are any other writing craft books that have been especially helpful to you, please leave the book title and author name in the comments and I'll add it to the list.

28 comments:

  1. This is a great list. I've read some, but not all, of those books. Yay for new things to help with craft!

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  2. Thank you for this list. It's a great one! I've read a few of these books and will definitely check out the rest (or as many as I am able :D).

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  3. Thanks, Jody! I see craft books recommended here and there, but it's nice to have a longer list in one spot.

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  4. Thanks for the list! I'm definitely checking a few of these out from my library as soon as possible :~)

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  5. Great list! There were several more on there that I've read and like, or have in my TBR pile. Another good resource for books is your local RWA chapter, if you're a member. Ours has a library of craft books and other resources to check out.

    Thanks for putting this together!

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  6. Thanks for posting this. I retweeted it for you.

    :)Becky

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  7. Great list! Obviously I gotta get me some learning :)

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  8. What an excellent resource, Jody. I am definitely bookmarking this post! Thanks!

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  9. Thanks for sharing this list, Jody. I don't know whether I feel vindicated or sheepish that most of those books are on my bookshelf.

    Another one I have that I've seen recommended often is Word Painting by Rebecca McClanahan. Bird by Bird is my personal favorite.

    Mary

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  10. Great list, Jody!!!! Thanks for sharing:-)

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  11. Fabulous list. Thanks Jody (& Jody's tweeps)! Time to get reading . . .

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  12. I forgot to mention This Won't Take But A Minute, Honey by Steve Almond: thirty flash fiction pages on one side of the book, thirty AMAZING short essays on the psychology and practice of writing: "a quirky resource for budding writers, a sort of freaky Strunk and White."

    It's good.

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  13. Anything by Sol Stein is worth a read :)

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  14. Great list! I have most of these, which shocked me ;)

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  15. See Jane Write. Very inspiring!

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  16. Great list - some I've read and loved, some I'll want to check out. Thanks!

    One you might add is Jessica Morrell's BETWEEN THE LINES. I found it really helpful - my copy is well marked up! :)

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  17. Great list. Agree with On Writing by Stephen King.

    I'm actually surprised The War of Art by Steven Pressfield didn't make the list. It should be required reading for not just writers, but anyone who has ever had the desire to create. It addresses all the reasons (excuses) we face that takes us away from our craft and gives them a name: The Resistance.

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  18. Fantastic list! Thanks for doing that for us. :)

    I also found the following very useful: The Right to Write by Julia Cameron and How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author by Janet Evanovich.

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  19. What a wonderful resource, Jody. Thanks! I pulled out two of my favourites to add, and then found that Shari and Laura had already suggested them in these comments: Between the Lines by Jessica Page Morrell and The Right to Write by Julia Cameron.

    There are so many good 'how to' books on the craft, but there are also some wonderful books offering encouragement for the writer's life. I love Take Joy by Jane Yolen and Room to Write by Bonni Goldberg.

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  20. Great list. I have a few of these in my collection but there's lots of new books here for me to try. Really useful post - thanks - Kat :-)

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  21. Have read many of the books on your list, but happy to find new ones.

    Thank you for this very helpful list, Jody.

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  22. Would you believe I "accidentally" found myself writing? I have a son who HATES writing. In my efforts to find a fun way to teach him, I found myself researching online the craft of writing and found it interesting enough to give it a try.

    The 2 books that I first enjoyed are for children. It was the simplification of the writing process that caught my interest and built my confidence in the beginning.

    What's Your Story?:A Young Person's Guide to Writing Fiction by Marion Dane Bauer

    Writing Stories
    by David L. Harrison

    Love your list for adults! I have a lot of reading to do. Thank you!

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  23. Thank you so much for the list!!

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  24. Looks like a great list--thank you!

    Here's another list, which includes some of the same, but a few new ones.

    http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/1714.Best_Books_on_Writing#186004

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  25. I love Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, but stopped reading Stephen King's On Writing when I got to the bit about the writing craft, because it just seemed to be trying to tell me how to write like Stephen King which, with no disrespect to multimillionaire King who clearly knows a thing or two, I don't want to do. Can anyone suggest which books I might benefit from, more on the Lamott-side than the King-side of things?! Thanks in advance!

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  26. Juliette,
    I'd say several of THE most practical and helpful books for me are Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell. Revision & Self-Editing by James Scott Bell. And Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass. They're full of practical and very helpful craft-writing basics that apply across the board to any genre. Hope that helps!

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