Here at Writing It Wells there's a heavy emphasis on the concept of self-improvement. I think that this is doubly true when it comes to writing. I don't think it matters what stage of the writing process you're in, how long you've been writing for, or how much experience you've had, the art of learning is a never-ending pursuit. The good news is that we grow as writers every day. By stretching our writing muscles, chasing new dreams, and working tirelessly to improve we develop our skills. This applies to reading as well. One of the best ways to become a better writer is to read and then read some more. Devour every book you possibly can, and you'll quickly see yourself and your prose change for the better. With this Top 10 Ultimate Resource Books list, we've taken the hard work out of finding your next reading list.
1. The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, 3rd Edition
by The Editors of Writer's Digest
With this how-to guide, you'll learn from established writers how to make your novel writing dreams a reality. Packed full of techniques, idea-generating strategies, how to connect with your readers, how to write query letters and navigate the publishing world, this guide has all you need for a broad-scope view of the world of writing professionally.
Unique because of the author interviews found in the back of the book, well-known names indulge us with the secrets of their success. Interviews include names like David Baldacci, Lee Child, Robert Crais, Stephen King, and George R.R. Martin to name a few.
2. Mastering the Process: From Idea to Novel
by Elizabeth George
A look into the writing process of Elizabeth George, author of two dozen successful suspense novels. In Master the Process, George guides us step-by-step through conceiving characters, developing voice, outlining plot, and building scenes.
She shares her inspiration through examples from Barbara Kingsolver, Harper Lee, E. M. Forster, John Irving, Toni Morrison, Stephen King, Ernest Hemingway, and Alice Hoffman.
Learn the process she has used while outlining twenty-two of her twenty-four novels so that you can follow in her footsteps to success.
3. Creative Writing: A Workbook With Readings
by Linda Anderson, editor
A guide and workbook fusion designed to introduce the creative process as a whole and provide a thorough review of elements specific to poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. You'll find helpful tips, methods, insights, and prompts on topics such as character, setting, point of view, structure, voice, imagery, and theme.
In the second half is an anthology featuring writers such as Raymond Carver, Joan Didion, Patricia Highsmith, Richard Hugo, Jamaica Kincaid, and more.
4. The Science of Storytelling: Why Stories Make Us Human and How to Tell Them Better
by Will Storr
Before you start writing, you need to know what the rules are. Only then can you learn to break them properly. This is the concept that Storr uses to teach us in The Science of Storytelling. He covers topics like creating an imagined world, the protagonist’s complexities and emotional conflicts, to larger questions of meaning, plot, and conclusions.
Storr uses his background in journalism, writing, psychology and neuroscience research, and examples ranging from Harry Potter to Alice Walker to King Lear to demonstrate his perspective.
5. Murder Your Darlings: And Other Gentle Writing Advice From Aristotle to Zinsser
by Roy Peter Clark
Clark has gathered over fifty different pieces of advice from a wide variety of sources in this book about writing. Divided into six sections, it covers everything storytelling-related with a detailed synopsis, examples, and an in-depth explanation of each tool and technique presented. It also provides helpful anecdotes, and ways to use each piece of advice.
In this book you'll find writing tips from E. M. Forster, Natalie Goldberg, Donald Hall, Stephen King, Anne Lamott, John McPhee, Strunk and White, Kurt Vonnegut, James Wood, and more.
6. Creating Short Fiction: The Classic Guide to Short Fiction
by Damon Knight
Damon Knight is an acclaimed science fiction author, editor, critic, and founder of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. If you're a sci-fi or fantasy writer, you're definitely going to want to pick up a copy of this book.
As the third edition of its kind, Knight uses his straightforward style and format to bring us advice on the essentials of writing. Learn the in's and out's of a writer’s life and work, including how to get ideas, when to begin a story, and advice on work habits. Though it was published in 1997 his advice still remains relevant in the present day.
7. The Poets & Writers Complete Guide To Being A Writer: Everything You Need to Know About Craft, Inspiration, Agents, Editors, Publishing, and the Business of Building a Sustainable Writing Career
by Kevin Larimer and Mary Gannon
The ultimate guidebook written by the two most recent editors of Poets & Writers Magazine, this book is packed full of practical tips about how to submit to literary magazines, writing contests, MFA programs, and literary agents; insights about self-publishing and small presses; and the connections between writing and family, friends, community, respect, and happiness. As if that wasn't enough, you'll also find writing prompts, craft advice, and personal essays about writing by a variety of well-known authors.
8. How Dare We! Write: A Multicultural Creative Writing Discourse
by Sherry Quan Lee
Written by writers of color such as Sherrie Fernandez Williams, Marline Gonzalez, Ching-In Chen, Sagirah Shahid, Wesley Brown, and Hei Kyong Kim, this powerful collection about writing and how to navigate the literary world features wisdom, insight, support, and advice on how to carve out a more expansive space for diverse voices.
To accompany these essays you'll find writing exercises, and themes such as literary gatekeeping, the tyranny of grammar, identities, personal narratives, rejection, and healing.
9. Synthesizing Gravity: Selected Prose
by Kay Ryan
For anyone who is a fan of poetry, Synthesizing Gravity is a book you don't want to miss. Written by Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. poet laureate Kay Ryan, her first book of essays provides literary criticism, book reviews, and personal essays on poetry and poets. In it she analyzes the roles of art and poetics within a creative life.
Her commentary spans writers such as: Emily Dickinson, Annie Dillard, Robert Frost, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Marianne Moore, Marilynne Robinson, Stevie Smith, Walt Whitman, and William Carlos Williams.
10. How to Grow a Novel: The Most Common Mistakes Writers Make And How to Overcome Them
by Sol Stein
If you're the type of writer who is looking to polish your work, Stein's comprehensive guide may be what you need. He'll help you identify common issues writers make and point out often overlooked craft elements of fiction. Then he provides tips to overcome these issues to help make your writing as clean and concise as possible.
His expertise comes from decades of writing novels and plays, and editing the work of authors such as W. H. Auden, James Baldwin, Elia Kazan, George Orwell, Lionel Trilling, and Simone Weil.
With this list of Top 10 Resource Books in your arsenal, you'll have the tools you need to not only write clean, precise prose, but inspiration backed by decades of writers in the industry as well.
Notes & Sources:
I do not own or take credit for any of the photos used in this post. The sources are as follows:
The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing Image: (Pinterest- Target page, The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing - 3by Writer's Digest Editors (Paperback), thumbnail, accessed 27/05/2020, https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/137289488806188701/)
All other book cover images: (Poet's & Writers Magazine Online, Best Books for Writers article,thumbnails, accessed 27/05/2020, https://www.pw.org/best-books-for-writers)
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