Today, there are over 100,000 books on writing available from major booksellers. And that's not even including online resources. Even if we exclude reference books and books on specialized niches, you still have a vast universe of information at your fingertips.
While it's wonderful to have such resources, the trick these days is to be selective. You don't need, for instance, to read 1000 books on writing fiction—just a few really good ones that speak to you and give you the answers you need, depending on your unique challenges and interests. Books that make you feel empowered and inspired as a writer are invaluable.
Below, we'll start off with a few of our favourites. However, we hope visitors like you will also share the best books on writing you've discovered. Tell us in a brief summary or review why you found them especially helpful.
The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
This book is a self-help program for creative people, a system for overcoming writer's block and for nurturing your artistic abilities. If you have dreamed of becoming a writer but have been held back by circumstances, excuses, or self-doubt, this book will help you finally fulfill that dream.
Cameron prescribes several unique exercises, including writing "Morning Pages" as a daily routine, taking yourself on "Artist Dates," and taking regular breaks from media.
Since this book was published, Cameron has written several others, but my feeling is that, as with most self-help series, the most powerful tools are in the introductory volume. For example, you can buy an "Artist's Way" blank book for writing morning pages, or you can just use any notebook or paper or your laptop.
by Ansen Dibell, Orsen Scott Card, and Lewis Turco
More About How to Write a Million by Monica Wood, Kit Reed, and Jack Bickham
This two-volume set actually contains six books, each one written by a different author. Each volume is crammed with highly practical tips that are almost certain to help you become a better writer. Together, they constitute a complete course in novel writing, covering the following subjects:
2. Characters and Viewpoint
You may have to hunt for these books, since they were published in the mid-1990s and are less well distributed in the U.S. (possibly because the pound sign in the title seems to target a British audience). However, it's well worth the effort because the advice is equally valuable and applicable to all novel writers no matter where in the world they reside. I recommend you read each book at least twice.
How to Write a Damn Good Novel
by James N. Fry
This is a hard-boiled novel writing book and an ideal guide for anyone wanting to write genre fiction or other plot-oriented novels (i.e. not literary fiction). It's about the craft of writing page turners. But even if your style is more literary, this book will help you add another dimension to your writing.
Frey has also written several other sequels to this book, but again it's usually best to start with the first book in a series and see if it grabs you.
The Writers' Writing Guide by Rachel Simon
Just to show you that the best things in life are sometimes FREE, and that, in the information age, you don't have to spend a lot of money to get great information, we an also recommend Rachel Simon's book
You can read it at no charge on the author's website. Just click here to read it. We were first drawn to it because of the insightful chapter on theme. This book delves a little more into the art of novel writing as opposed to the pure craft of novel writing, making it more appealing to writers with a literary bent. But there's plenty of solid advice on the craft as well.
Writing Fight Scenes by Rayne Hall
If you aren't a martial arts or stage combat expert, but you still want to include fight scenes in your stories -- and especially if at least one of your fighters is supposed to know what he/she is doing -- then this inexpensive book is a great introduction to the topic.
Hall covers a wide range of fight scenarios, including different types of weapons and opponents, and the differences between male and female fighting techniques. Particularly useful is her description of how to structure a fight scene. Hall has a background in stage combat, which is useful for crafting fight scenes with dramatic impact.
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King
Browne is a former editor and in this book she and her fellow author show you the techniques editors use (depending on how much effort a publishers is willing to invest in a new author) to help writers take their manuscripts to a higher level of professional quality. The emphasis is on style and voice rather than story structure, but the advice is invaluable for novelists. The book features plenty of examples and exercises for each technique. Topics include showing vs. telling, characterization, dialogue, beats, point of view, and diction. Working your way through this book while preparing a second draft of your manuscript could bring amazing results.