5 Books on Writing Every Author Should Read

June 13, 2017

I’ve been focusing a lot of my non-fiction reading on the writing craft, specifically targeting areas where I know I need to improve. Here are 5 books that I’ve read recently (or re-read recently) that resonated with my writing journey.

Structuring Your Novel and Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland

These two are a must and a no brainer. I don’t care if you are a religious panster, you must read these books and apply the tools Weiland so articulately lays out. These two books focus on the structure of the overall story and provide clear insights into framing your story for maximum impact. Not only that, but Weiland gives you an entire workbook to go through each step. (And now there’s even a new software that goes with the tools in the books!) If you’re a serious writer looking to take your craft to the next level, read these books.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King

Holy. Guacamole. I wish I had read this book fifteen years ago. I tend to think of writing in two phases: the writing and the editing. I suck at editing. I’ve had so many people ask me to edit their work, and I just refused because I know it’s a weakness of mine. I’m not good at spotting the things that should be fixed. One of my favorite phrases is this doesn’t work, but I don’t know why. I wouldn’t say that any longer. This book has ruined me for any published work. I find myself tripping at the very presence of something pointed out in this book that could be tweaked to make the writing stronger. And that’s what I love about this book. It’s all about making the writing stronger. The authors never say you suck as a writer. They just say you could be better. I love that.

Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish by James Scott Bell

While Weiland’s book gave me everything I ever wanted to know about structure and outlining, Bell’s book laid out a whole new arsenal of tools to use in the mechanics of drafting your fiction that I hadn’t considered before and now readily use. Most specifically – index cards. I had resisted this fad for a very, very, very long time, because I am overly OCD, and the thought of carrying around cards terrified me. But not now. Bell gives you an exercise in this book that I hesitantly tried because it sounded too delicious not to. I’m glad I did. I’m an index convert. Check out this book for a new spin on structure and walk away with applicable tools.

How to Market Your Book by Joanna Penn

If you haven’t read this book, we can’t be friends. Seriously. If you’re new to this publishing world or have been relying on the “I hope someone reads my book” method of marketing, you need this book. (And the new edition that’s up for pre-order.) Penn walks you through every P of marketing: price, product, and promotion. I use her ebooks now as templates for my own books. She tackles every front you should be considering when approaching the market with your work. A must for traditional and your-crazy-not-to-read-this for indies.

On Writing by Stephen King

Again, we can’t be friends if you haven’t read this. I recently re-read it as it’s been fifteen years since my first go at it. I still quote the desk in the center of the room thing. Don’t know what I mean? Pick up this book and have it change your writing life.

What would you add to this list?


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