Don’t waste your time.
I’ll say it again: Don’t waste your time reading books on writing.
Shocking? Think about how many hours a month you spend reading about how to write better, and how many hours you spend writing. That might be shocking. No matter what you need to learn, you won’t learn it if you’re not writing. And every writer at some point comes to the conclusion that we have read enough about it and now just need to do it.
If this is ringing any bells with you, stop reading this and go write for 15 minutes! This site is meant to help you write more. Practice is key to writing better, regardless of how many books you’ve read about how to write better.
Now that I’ve done my duty and reminded you of your priorities, let me tell you about my favorite writing books. 🙂
FIRST DRAFT IN 30 DAYS by Karen Wiesner – Love to flip through this and use some of the worksheets when I’m starting a new story. (Look in our archives for posts by Karen!)
PLOT & STRUCTURE by James Scott Bell – Love to flip through this one when I’m in the early and mid planning stages, trying to make the plot better, hoping to remember anything I forgot. (Look in our archives for a post by Jim!)
REVISION & SELF-EDITING by James Scott Bell – Just started flipping through this new book, and love it as much as the previous one, will use it more when I get to the revision stage on this book.
WRITING THE ROMANTIC COMEDY by Billy Mernit – Enjoyed reading the book, and refer back to the “Seven Basic Romantic Comedy Beats” in chapter six when starting a new romantic comedy.
WRITING THE CHRISTIAN ROMANCE by Gail Gaymer Martin – Still working through this one as I try my hand at writing an inspirational romance, enjoying it so far.
BOOK OF POISONS by Serita Stevens and Anne Bannon – I can’t help it, I love this book! LOL! Just flipping through it can give me plot ideas. It’s part of The Howdunit Series from Writer’s Digest Books. Great books. I also own Police Procedure & Investigation, Missing Persons, Murder One, and Rip-Off.
WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL (and Workbook) by Donald Maass – Perfect to go through between drafts 1 and 2 (for me, at least). If you ever have a chance to go to one of his workshops, do it! Excellent teacher, and he has a new book coming out later this year called THE FIRE IN FICTION, which I am dying to buy.
THE WRITER’S BRAINSTORMING KIT by Pam McCutcheon (available at Gryphon Books for Writers) – Love using this book and the deck of idea cards when I want to come up with some more book ideas. Very fun for use in a small group!
WRITING THE FICTION SYNOPSIS by Pam McCutcheon – Also from Gryphon Books, this is an excellent reference when writing a synopsis.
PLEASE UNDERSTAND ME by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates – Excellent reference for figuring out what personality your characters have, what their “cue words” might be, and “sources of misunderstanding” for all 16 types (you know, like INFJ or whatever you’ve tested to be 😉 ).
IMMEDIATE FICTION by Jerry Cleaver – This book covers a little bit of everything in writing, as so many books do, but for some reason the way this guy says it really hits home for me. I like to read it every couple of years.
So there you have it, my not-so-short list of books I can’t live without. 🙂 I hope you find a new title or two to look into. Just promise me you’ll remember – don’t read about writing more hours than you actually write, no matter what level of writer you are. 🙂