Monday, May 21, 2012

Books On Craft: Which Are Your Faves??

So. Writing is hard, isn't it? Like, really, really , really hard.

But you knew that already.

And since you knew that already, you've borrowed or bought books on craft. Or, if you're like me, Googled books on craft, then stared at the laptop screen for an embarrassing amount of time. 

Why? Because there are so. Many. Books.

And they all look fascinating. And perfect. And oh-so-right for me.

That's why I'm sending out a call for help: 

Which is your favorite book on ze craft of writing? 

Bonus points if you tell me why :)

Happy Monday! And thanks in advance!!


  1. I don't have ONE favorite book on craft, but I highly recommend The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass and books from the Write Great Fiction Series such as Characters, Emotion and Viewpoint (Nancy Kress) and Plot and Structure (James Scott Bell). The Fire in Fiction has fantastic exercises and has great tips on many different aspects of writing (I actually wrote a review for it because I enjoyed it that much)while the Write Great Fiction series (as you probably guessed from the titles) focuses more on one aspect of writing. I've found them to be of immense use.

    Best of luck with your search!

    1. I bought Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass based on how many recommendations I'd seen online on blogs like this. It was really helpful and practical. I will definitely check out a few of his other titles.

      I'm finishing Save the Cat by Blake Snyder which is probably the second most often cited craft book I see on blogs. It's written for screenwriters but it breaks down all the elements a story needs. It's also very straightforward in its advice on what is needed to be successful and/or mainstream. Once you get the basic formula down, then it makes sense to experiment.

  2. Stephen King's ON WRITING because he treats writing like a job, and doesn't rely on some flaky muse to show up.

  3. I've read a lot of good ones, but the two that really clicked for me recently were Screenwriting Tricks for Authors by Alexandra Sokoloff and Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland. more about Alex's book here:

  4. I recently read and liked The First Five Pages.

  5. I second Stephen King's On Writing and would add to that Ursula Le Guin's STEERING THE CRAFT and Janet Burroway's WRITING FICTION (written with two other authors).

  6. Description by Monica Wood.

    This book took my writing to another level. It showed me how to weave description into my stories without overwhelming the plot with it.

  7. I 3rd Stephen King's book "On Writing" and also 2nd the "Write Great Fiction" series. All good. I also posted on my blog a post about "The Best Writing Instructors". It's on the side under 'most popular posts' at If you get a minute, stop over and see what you think. And good luck with your reading.

  8. I really like Self-Editing for Fiction Writers -- great for revising. It's really advanced stuff -- things I never thought about before!

  9. I will second Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. It is fairly short and a quick read (of course good to reference as well) so I would suggest reading it before you start writing. That way you can just skip the things you are going to go back and fix anyway! :-)

  10. My first is "From Where You Dream" by Pulitzer Price Winner Robert Olen Butler. I liked it so much I named my blog, fromdreams, after it. He speaks of the importance of getting into your personal "zone" or "dreamspace" when writing, of turning off the analytical voice in order to access your deepest storytelling voice. He also discusses how we feel emotions and how to express them, as well as planning a novel and revising.

    Arthur Plotnik's "Spunk & Bite," A writer's guide to punchier, more engaging language & style. The way he writes the book is an example of what he means. This book is one of my writing and critting Bibles, along with . . .

    June Casagrande's "It was the best of sentences, it was the worst of sentences." I bought this when I wondered why my sentences never read as well as so many of my favorite authors. What's an unclear antecedent? A dangler? Faulty parallels? How can I say what I mean in the clearest most powerful way and in as few words as possible? Love this little book.

    This last is not exactly on writing, but whatever would I do without my big, fat Roget's International Thesaurus?

  11. YOU GUYS!! This is amazing!! I feel like a much better writer from reading the titles alone!

    I've read countless rave reviews on Stephen King's On Writing, and Donald Maass' The Fire In Fiction, so they are a definite must at this point. I've actually read Blake Snyder's Save The Cat! and l-o-v-e-d it. Very, very helpful. Right now, I'm diving into Les Edgerton's Hooked. It focuses on the first line, the first paragraph, the first page, and the first chapter. So far, awesome :)

    Now I just have to check out all these other books you lovely people suggested!! Thank you tons!

  12. Donald Maass' books are fabulous, I agree. I was fortunate to attend one of his conferences a couple years ago. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers is wonderful, too. Another little book I liked is The Art of War For Writers by James Scott Bell, I think. I'm happy to see Stephen King's book On Writing getting some good reviews. I have it, but haven't begun reading it yet.
    Thanks for this post. Great inspiration for us.

  13. I like Take Joy, A Writer's Guide to Loving the Craft by Jane Yolen because...well, because it not only gives tips on the craft of writing, but it reminds us to take joy in the journey :-)


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