Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott
- M.J. says: I am ridiculously picky about books on writing. Maybe because my family thought for years that all books on writing were equally useful. I still remember the feeling of reading Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird and for the first time connected with a book on writing. It was incredible.
- E.V. says: It’s next up on my to-read writing books pile.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King
- M.J. says: Confession: I’ve never made it through Stephen King’s On Writing, though that book is the most common recommendation I get.
- E.V. says: Every writing class I’ve attended, in school and out, has listed King’s memoir in the need-to-read section. While it’s not my favourite writing book, the best takeaway from On Writing for me is King’s perseverance in the face of rejection. Every writer will face mountains of rejection, you must keep writing.
Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, Natalie Goldberg
- M.J says: In college, a writer-friend recommended Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg and The Right to Write by Julia Cameron – both excellent.
- M.J. says: See above.
Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity, Ray Bradbury
- M.J. says: A few years later, I discovered Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing. A good book on writing, to me, articulates truths I haven’t yet found the right words for or opens my mind to other possibilities and makes me question my assumptions. Preferably, it does both.
- E.V. says: Worth a read as far as learning just how vast inspiration is and the importance of finding your genre and voice and writing your way to the best of your ability.
Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction, Jeff VanderMeer
- M.J. says: I just finished Jeff VanderMeer’s Wonderbook, which is a masterclass in its own right. Or several masterclasses rolled into one book. It fulfills my criteria and then some.
- E.V. says: I need to get my hands on this book!
Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft, Janet Burroway
- E.V. says: This is the very first writing manual I ever purchased, and it was on the required reading list of my first university creative writing course. While it has a literary bent, this in-depth look at all of the basic elements of the craft is a must read for any writer. Plus it has excellent short story examples!
- E.V. says: This book came my way from my second university creative writing course. For anyone interested in learning about or from the different genres of writing, this is an excellent resource. The drama portion will help your novel dialogue more than you’ll even know! I recommend reading Writing Fiction then Three Genres since Minot goes into detail about the basics of fiction versus poetry versus drama and assumes his reader is already well versed in writing basics.
The Elements of Style, Strunk and White
- E.V. says: Confession time: although Strunk and White have been listed as should-reads on every English course I’ve ever taken, and was actually required reading in one, I have never made it through the book. I just can’t do it –and I’ve tried multiple times! My main issue is that they dissect the elements of writing that come quite naturally to me. You should read it. I’ll keep trying.
Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing, Margaret Atwood
- E.V. says: This is a must-read for anyone who identifies as a female writer. And for those who don’t. This is not an instruction manual; Atwood is not going to tell you how to put pen to paper and write a best seller. What she’s going to do is build a narrative about story, about her story and stories, and discuss aspects of the craft you may not have thought to ever look at. Will it make you a more cognisant writer? I hope so.
The Entire Suite of Writing Thesauruses by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
- E.V. says: The suite includes: The Emotion Thesaurus, The Negative Trait Thesaurus, The Positive Trait Thesaurus, The Rural Setting Thesaurus, and The Urban Setting Thesaurus. Every single one of these titles is a must-have because what Ackerman and Puglisi have done is taken the redundancy out of writing. They give you all the tools you need to show instead of tell –and tell in a fresh way– which makes your narrative that much more powerful.
Writing Subtext: What Lies Beneath, Linda Seger
- Kate says: I struggled with subtext earlier when learning to write. Seger uses a lot of examples to drive home the lessons on subtext.
The Webcomics Handbook, Brad Guigar
- Kate says: This book looks at all the layers of webcomics. The quality pieces are the ones detailing publishing your webcomic and keeping is afloat–maybe even turning a profit on it. That being said, do not take any of the drawing advice from this book.
The Fine Print of Self-Publishing: A Primer on Contracts, Printing Costs, Royalties, Distribution, Ebooks, and Marketing, Mark Levine
- Kate says: This book does a good job of providing a US-focused self-publishing information. The book really looks into all the details that you need to know before releasing a book live.