I’m starting a new section on the website called “For Writers” (see the menu) where I will have links to recommended books, podcasts and my own posts on the subject of writing and publishing. To kick it off I thought I’d start with a blog post listing some of the books on writing which I have found most helpful. Please note that all links are affiliate links.
Solutions for Writers – Practical Craft Techniques for Fiction and Non-Fiction by Sol Stein
This is practically a one-stop shop on the art of fiction writing and how the techniques of fiction can be used to enhance non-fiction. Sol Stein is particularly good on subjects such as pacing, which other writers often don’t tackle, but I think good pacing is a crucial element in a well-written book. He also discusses in-depth the differences between literary and genre fiction. Highly recommended. Unfortunately it appears to be out of print, but you might find a copy at your local library if you don’t want to pay the exorbitant second-hand prices.
Get Solutions for Writers on Amazon
A Novel in a Year by Louise Doughty
This is a thoroughly enjoyable read by one of the UK’s top-selling novelists. As well as offering practical help, guidance and exercises, Louise Doughty talks openly and honestly about her own struggles in becoming a writer, the challenges she faces and why she loves what she does.
Get A Novel in a Year from Amazon
Beginnings, Middles & Ends by Nancy Kress
It seems to me that writing a novel is as much about structure and architecture as anything else. This book tackles this subject superbly whilst also talking about characters and offering techniques for actually getting through the long haul process of writing a full-length novel.
Get Beginnings, Middles & Ends from Amazon
Word Painting – A Guide to Writing More Descriptively by Rebecca McClanahan
This a beautifully written book on the art of using language to bring your stories to life. It covers in-depth such topics as using all five senses, metaphors and similes, and discusses character, viewpoint and setting. Aimed more at the literary writer, nevertheless it’s a book from which all writers could benefit.
Get Word Painting from Amazon
Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card
An in-depth look at the subject of character and viewpoint. Early on in the book the author puts forward the theory that every story has at its heart one of the following: a milieu, an idea, a character or an event. Which of these four story types you are writing determines how much (if any) character development you actually need. It’s a compelling argument and is well worth considering. Orson Scott Card discusses different character types and offers a thorough analysis of the differences between first and third person.
Get Characters & Viewpoint from Amazon
Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell
A very readable, practical guide to structure, character arcs, common problems and revision, with a clear text-book style layout. A good book to re-read on a regular basis, particularly if you’re stuck in the middle of a story.
Get Plot & Structure from Amazon
Writing Plots with Drama, Depth and Heart: Nail Your Novel by Roz Morris
This is a good book for getting you to think more deeply about your story’s potential: the meaning, themes and conflicts that you can draw out of your basic starting point. There’s a very good section on mistakes that novices make and why their plots don’t necessarily work.
Get Writing Plots with Drama, Depth and Heart from Amazon
Million Dollar Outlines by David Farland
David Farland’s central thesis is that reading fiction is an emotional exercise in handling stress and, based on that, he suggests techniques that will enable the writer to produce emotionally gripping page-turners. He has a huge stack of “plotting tools” such as the time-bomb, the dilemma, the crucible etc. that you can use to develop your plot. This book is packed with good ideas for writing a block-buster.
Get Million Dollar Outlines from Amazon
Write Your Novel from the Middle by James Scott Bell
This is a short book with a simple idea behind it, namely that that mid-point of any story is the crux of the matter and tells us “what the novel or movie is really all about.” If you’re struggling with a messy work in progress, this book might just help to bring a sense of clarity.
Get Write Your Novel from the Middle from Amazon
On Writing by Stephen King
This is more an auto-biographical memoir than a guide to how to write. Nevertheless it is an interesting insight into one of the most successful writers of all time. His basic advice is read a lot and write a lot. To that end, King provides a long list of his all-time favourite novels, in case you’re looking for reading suggestions.
Get On Writing from Amazon