Monday, February 18, 2013

Books on the Craft of Writing

I'm one of those people who loves books on writing. I have tons on my shelves, I've checked out plenty from the library, and I have quite a few on my e-reader. I enjoy hearing the books that others found useful, so I decided to share some of my favorites here, and if you have any that you've read and loved but don't see on the list, please share them!

In no particular order:

(1) The 90 Day Novel by Alan Watt. I've talked about this one before. This book takes you through a month of writing exercises so that you get to know your character, and then guides you through the next two months in order to write a rough draft. There are over two hundred questions in the book that allow you to explore your protagonist and antagonist as thoroughly as you want (and really, you can apply them to secondary characters as well). I didn't use all 200-plus questions, but at one point while working on these, things clicked, and I suddenly felt like I knew my characters very well. I will definitely use these questions as guidelines in the future.

(2) To Each Their Darkness by Gary A. Braunbeck. Braunbeck has taken some of the most horrific things that ever happened to him (and trust me, they're pretty awful) and turned them into fiction that just takes your breath away. I recommend this for finding the courage to write about your own darkness and fears.

(3) Save The Cat! by Blake Snyder. It's a book on screenwriting, but it's also applicable to writing fiction. I'm going to try the techniques to help outline my next novel.

(4) The 10% Solution by Ken Rand. When it's time to edit, this book can help with whittling down words and strengthening your prose.

(5) The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell. Not a writing book, per se, but many writers have been influenced by him. Star Wars (episode IV, not those crappy prequels) was heavily influenced by Campbell, for example.

(6) The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass. This is just a great overall guide for breathing life into your characters and your world.

(7) Bullies, Bastards, and Bitches by Jessica Page Morrell. First of all, I've never had so many people interested in what I was reading until I toted this around and pulled it out in public. The title grabs you, that's for sure. Also, it helps with making complicated, nuanced villains and not just the two-dimensional, mustache-twirly kind.

(8) Dynamic Characters by Nancy Kress. A good introduction to writing characters.

(9) Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury. A collection of essays on writing. I considered highlighting to most important passages, but then realized I would've highlighted every word.

(10) Steering the Craft by Ursula K. Le Guin. Writing exercises that can be done by yourself or in a group. What you write may surprise you, and will definitely delight you.

Which ones would you recommend?


  1. Description by Monica Wood is quite awesome (she covers all the big craft stuff but frames the discussion in Description).

    1. It's been a while since I've read Description, but I do remember it being quite helpful.