Since it's the summer, and plenty of people catch up on summer reading, I figured this week's writing tip would include a list my favourite books on writing.
Why read books on writing when I should just write?
Because learning the craft is at least as important as practicing the craft. When you learn to play piano you take lessons, right? When you take up knitting, you chat with the experts at the craft store. And when you become a new parent, you read plenty of books and magazines to ensure you're not doing a horrible job. (Even if it feels like you are!)
The book that is ALWAYS my number one recommendation for writers is written by my favourite author:
On Writing by Stephen King
Not only is this book fun to read, it provides essential and fun advice to keep you motivated. In fact, I plan on reading it again this week, to remind me what I'm doing right and what I need to improve.
My number two recommendation is a book that also comes with a companion workbook. I have been using both to try and improve the novel I'm currently writing and I also highly recommend it for all writers:
Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass
This book is fantastic, but the workbook is also excellent because it gives you exercises to put Mr. Maass's advice into practice. I carry the workbook with me almost all the time.
Now that I have extolled the virtues of these two fabulous and essential books, let's move on to more great recommendations.
For ALL Writers:
Word Work - Surviving and Thriving as a Writer by Bruce Holland Rogers
Save the Cat by Blake Snyder (aimed at screenwriters, but useful for all writers)
The Successful Novelist by David Morrell
Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card
I Have This Nifty Idea...Now What Do I Do With It? by Mike Resnick
For Science Fiction Writers:
The Science of Science-Fiction Writing by James Gunn
How to Write Science Fiction by Orson Scott Card
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Science Fiction by Cory Doctorow and Karl Schroeder
For Fantasy Writers:
The Writer's Complete Fantasy Reference by Terry Brooks, Daniel A. Clark, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Allan Maurer, P. Andrew Miller, Michael J. Varhola, and Renee Wright
For Horror Writers:
On Writing Horror Edited by Mort Castle
For Mystery Writers:
Don't Murder Your Mystery by Chris Roerden
I also have several books in my "to read" pile that are on writing which I, personally, have not yet read, but they were recommended to me by other writers, so they may be of use to you.
Many Genres One Craft - Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction Edited by Michael A. Arnzen and Heidi Ruby Miller
Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King
So that's my list. I hope one or more of these books help you to be a better writer.
Do it now
Buy On Writing by Stephen King and Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. I mean it. Look them up on Amazon or Indigo or wherever you shop and get these two books shipped to your house as quickly as you can afford to. You will not regret the purchase!
If you know of a good book on writing that isn't on my list, please include the title and author in the comments section.