Here is a list of my recommended resources for writers who wish to improve their craft. Included here are guides on grammar, style, and fiction writing. I consider these important manuals on the essentials of writing. Some of them even delve into the various aspects of the writing life.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Stephen King

Packaged as a memoir, this book is actually an indispensable writing guide. Master storyteller Stephen King offers excellent writing advice to writers in any genre. Probably the most famous of these is “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

The lesson here is that good writing is possible only if you 1) allow other writing to influence you, and 2) put in the time to write. This book includes other such nuggets of wisdom, which is why I highly recommend it.

Booklife: Strategies and Survival Tips for the 21st-Century Writer
Jeff VanderMeer

This is like two books in one: a writing guide and a marketing guide. The writing advice is very good, but I tend to recommend this book to writers seeking advice on how to get started in promoting their work.

On the marketing side, this book includes valuable advice on what to do and what not to do. Without a functional platform, it’s difficult for writers to publish and promote their work. There’s certainly ineffective (and even harmful) ways to go about it. This book will give you the fundamentals.

The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition
William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White

The great thing about this book is that it’s both thin and packed full of practical advice. The streamlined quality is why it has remained one of the most popular writing guides for more than 100 years.

This guide is less about how fiction works and more about the rudimentary aspects of how the English language works, whether through grammar or syntax. This is a reference book that belongs on every writer’s shelf, whether you write fiction or non-fiction.

Creating Short Fiction: The Classic Guide to Writing Short Fiction
Damon Knight

A common recommendation to new fiction writers is to start small. The short story is a form of fiction that allows writers to develop their craft without having to worry about it completely failing. Writing a novel, on the other hand, means a lot more is at stake.

Writing short story after short story allows you to experiment through trial and error. This book will give you the key elements of what makes a short story work.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Anne Lamott

This book provides practical and humorous advice on the craft of writing. Lamott discusses topics such as finding inspiration, developing characters, overcoming writer’s block, and dealing with rejection. She also delves into the personal aspects of writing, such as the importance of honesty and vulnerability in one’s work.

Through anecdotes from her own life, Lamott encourages writers to embrace their unique voice and to trust the creative process. This offers a refreshing and supportive perspective on the challenges of writing.

The Writing Life
Annie Dillard

This book explores the joys and struggles of the writing process. Dillard discusses various aspects of the writing life, such as the need for discipline and perseverance, the importance of finding one’s own voice, and the challenges of facing criticism and rejection.

Dillard also shares her personal experiences as a writer, from her early struggles to her later successes, and offers insights into the creative process, including the role of inspiration and the value of hard work.

Stein on Writing: A Master Editor of Some of the Most Successful Writers of Our Century Shares His Craft Techniques and Strategies
Sol Stein

This book provides practical advice and insights into the art of writing. Stein draws on his experience as an editor, publisher, and author to offer guidance on topics such as plot development, characterization, dialogue, and pacing. He also provides tips on revision, including how to identify and eliminate weak spots in one’s writing.

In addition to offering practical advice, Stein also emphasizes the importance of creativity, originality, and voice in writing. He encourages writers to take risks and push themselves beyond their comfort zones. Throughout the book, he uses examples from literature and his own experience to illustrate his points.

The Emotional Craft of Fiction: How to Write the Story Beneath the Surface
Donald Maass

This book explores the ways in which writers can create deeper, more meaningful emotional connections with readers. Maass argues that the most powerful stories are those that evoke strong emotions in readers. He then provides practical guidance on how to achieve this effect. He discusses techniques such as micro-tension, character arcs, and subtext.

Maass also delves into the role of empathy in storytelling, and offers strategies for tapping into readers’ emotions in a way that feels authentic and powerful. Throughout the book, he provides examples from literature and offers exercises and prompts to help writers develop their own emotional writing.

Note: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases of these writers’ resources and more.

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