My Top 5 Writing Books…

Writing is hard. Let’s face it, it’s not for everyone. Those of us that do it and labor for countless hours over certain sentences and paragraphs do so because we love it. But we’re not magical by any means. The unique thing about writing is “we never stop learning.”

There are many in the business that have gained a certain level of success. Not all, and pretty much most, did NOT achieve instant success overnight. Thankfully, these gifted writers have shared their secrets—often the same secret, that their best words weren’t a gift at all, but the fruits of frustrating, wearisome work.  

If you’re a writer then like me you are always on the lookout for a good writing book. Anything that will enable me to improve in the craft is worthy in my opinion to be on my shelf. Recently however I have noticed a TON of short ebooks popping up on the craft of writing. Most of these are fairly good and written by some well established authors. But it got me thinking about the books I always keep on my shelf to help me with my craft. These are the ones with the covers so worn I could probably do myself a world of good by simply ordering a new copy. They’re the ones I recommend to every writer friend I meet and say “This helped me out…” So here they are, in no particular order. My top five writing books… Let me know the ones you love.

1.      On Writing By Stephen King

Regardless of what your opinion is of Stephen King no one can deny that he is one of the greatest writers of our generation. He has managed to pen an enormous amount of work over his career. In 2000 he released a book that was part Memoir and part writing advice. It is an amazing book that I have read at least three times. His story of writing as a young child to how his wife rescued “Carrie” out of the trash are inspiring stories that motivate us to sit and write…

 2.       The Elements of Style By William Strunk Jr and E.B. White

This book sits at about 85 pages. Written in the early 60’s originally this book is one book that every well know writer states “This sits on my shelf.” You learn everything from words that are often spelled wrong, to punctuation, to style, etc. Very blunt and to the point. This book is essentially saying this: you can’t blaze new trails in the English language without having a solid foundation in the basics first!

 3.      Self- Editing for Fiction Writers By Renni Browne and Dave King

If your ego is one that you don’t enjoy having deflated from time to time- Then I suggest you skip this book. With each chapter I read I felt like someone was stabbing in the spine. Everything I was doing I discovered I was doing wrong. This book helped me break some very bad and nasty habits.

4.      Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

I have one published writer in my ACFW writing Group that credits this book for being the reason she got published. This book goes beyond most of the usual bland advice you find in the regular “How to Books.” He offers advice on plot structure for various genres to sub-plots to multiple viewpoints…

5.      Dialogue by Gloria Kempton.

Let’s face it… Who of us wouldn’t love the chance to write dialogue like Robert B Parker…? All of us would. But when I first begin writing dialogue was my biggest issue. I had no idea how to approach it. This book gave me the simple tools to use whenever I came to that critical spot in my scene. This is one of those that doesn’t sit on my shelf, it sits on my desk, always opened.


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“Writing Books that Every Writer Should have on their Shelf… Click to tweet

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