Ten Terrific Books for Writers

Whenever the topic of favorite books for writers comes up, I always mention the same ones over and over again. But they are timeless must-reads for anyone trying to finish their first manuscript, (or twenty-first,) and for those pursuing publication, either traditionally or through self-publishing. So here I go again with a list of my ten favorite books for writers. Feel free to include your favorites in the comments below and I’ll add them in a new post!

Oh and these are not in any particular order of favorites. That would be way too hard!

Ten Terrific Books for Writers!

1.) How to Write a Damn Good Novel, II by James N. Frey

How to writeI have to start with this total gem by James N. Frey because he offers an explanation of theme and premise that I truly understand! Plus it’s jammed packed with so much great advice that I try to reread it once a year. Which reminds me. I’m due!

I’ve also recently read How to Write a Damn Good Mystery which was also excellent!

2.) Save the Cat by Blake Snyder

Yes, this book written by Blake Snyder is for screenwriters, but story structure is the same regardless whether you’re writing a book or movie. Brilliant novel, one I highly recommend! Another great resource by Blake are the Beat Sheets on his website that break down the plot for many popular movies, really allowing you to study story structure.

3.) The Comic Toolbox by John Vorhaus

Even if you don’t write comedy, there is so much you can learn about character development in this amazing book by John Vorhaus! Another I try to read once a year. Which again. I’m due.

4.) On Writing by Stephen King

Of course this classic by Stephen King must be mentioned, seeing as how On Writing is practically listed on every list of best books for writers. My paperback copy is wrinkled and dog-eared from so many reads!

5.) The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Stephen Pressfield.

I’ve heard many mentions of this book throughout the years, but I haven’t read it until recently. Fantastic book. Just fantastic. And it gives all those horrible fears, doubts, and anxieties a name: Resistance. Don’t like resistance? Read this book to find out how to fight it.

I also read and enjoyed Turning Pro: Tap Your Power and Create Your Life’s Work which is also great. His Do The Work is also good as a refresher read for slumps.

6.) The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass.

fire in ficitonI had a hard time picking which book I like more–Writing the Breakout Novel or this one. I’m going with Fire in Fiction because it’s excellent for those having problems with revision and it offers some awesome, practical tools for characterizations and ways to put some pop in your manuscript.

7.) Write, Publish, Repeat: The No-Luck-Required Guide to Self-Publishing Success by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant.

Write Publish RepeatThose writers who have dipped their toes in indie publishing, (or who will be soon,) are nodding their heads right now when I say that this is the first thing you should read if you’re thinking of self-publishing. And really, there’s some great tips for traditional authors as well.

I’ve yet to read Fiction Unboxed: Publishing and Writing a Novel in 30 Daysbut that is high on my to-read list!

8.) Fast Fiction: A Guide to Outlining and Writing a First-Draft Novel in Thirty Days by Denise Jaden

Fast FictionA friend recommending this book as a great tool for those who are tackling NaNoWriMo. I really enjoyed it! Those of you who like to plan and outline a manuscript rather than jumping right in will enjoy it too. Another good one for those wanting to up their daily word count is Write Better, Faster by Monica Leonelle.

9.) 500 Ways to Write Harder by Chuck Wendig

Yes, Chuck does have a saucy vocabulary, but his 500 tips in this book that is broken down into several sections is absolutely amazing. It’s the kind of book you can read (or re-read) in clumps, without feeling as though you have to go back to the beginning. His website is also jam-packed with great advice and his weekend Flash Fiction challenges are a great way to keep your fingers flying!

10.) You Are A Writer (So Start Acting Like One,) by Jeff Goins

You are a writerI truly enjoyed this novel. It’s a quick read and if you’re still struggling with doubt and fear, it’s an excellent follow-up to The War of Art. I’m also looking forward to finally reading The Art of Work, which has been on my nightstand for a couple months now.

Jeff also provides one of my favorite writing quotes:

Monday Motivation: Inspiring Quotes for Writers

I have more that are worth mentioning, but I’m cutting it off at ten for now and saving the rest for another post since they deserve their own spotlight. Until then, it’s your turn.

QOTD: What are your favorite books for writers or illustrators? Please share them in the comments below. This way, I can use them in a future post with a fresh round of great books!


Cross Posted on Write, Run, Rejoice

About Laura Bowers

Laura is a writer, runner, reader, runDisney addict, blogger/vlogger at Write, Run, Rejoice and Joyful Miles, mom of two awesome boys, wife of one fantastic husband, excellent chili maker, and obsessive list keeper. She loves run-on sentences and adverbs. She also still thinks Spice World was an awesome movie and feels no shame about that.
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6 Responses to Ten Terrific Books for Writers

  1. ellenramsey says:

    Thanks for a great post. I’m eager to read Save the Cat! Here are some of my favorite books about writing:
    Writing for Children, Joan Aiken—Presents different types of children’s books, skills to develop, pitfalls to avoid.
    Invitations to the World: Teaching and Writing for the Young, Richard Peck—Describes Peck’s path to becoming a writer, his teaching and writing experiences, his conviction about the importance of education and of writing quality books for children.
    Worlds of Childhood: The Art and Craft of Writing for Children, edited by William Zinsser, with essays by Jean Fritz, Jill Krementz, Katherine Paterson, Jack Prelutsky, Maurice Sendak, and Rosemary Wells.
    Dreams and Wishes: Essays on Writing for Children, Susan Cooper—Not really a how-to book, but fascinating essays and speeches on reading and writing.

  2. Great suggestions!
    My must-read is Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland. I listen to the audiobook at least once a year and it keeps me going!

    Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott is another terrific one.

  3. cagmom says:

    I recommend Rita Mae Brown’s book Starting from Scratch: A Different Kind of Writer’s Manual. Even if you don’t read the whole book, study her eye-opening section on words and language.

  4. One of my favorites is THE MORAL PREMISE by Stanley Williams. Like SAVE THE CAT!, it’s also written for screen writers, but oh so applicable to novelists. I also like STORY GENIUS by Lisa Cron and STILL WRITING by Dani Shapiro.

  5. I’ve gotten great tips from HOW TO WRITE WINNING SHORT STORIES by Nancy Sakaduski which I found at the Writers Center in Bethesda, Md. I also have recently re-read WALKING ON WATER: REFLECTIONS ON FAITH AND ART by Madeleine L’Engle, who has a great chapter on “Do We Want the Children to See It?”.

  6. natashalaneauthor1 says:

    “On Writing” is amazing!

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