Books That Made Me A Better Writer
I love books about writing.
I’m almost always reading a craft book along side whatever fiction novel I’m reading. And I typically have a non fiction audio book going, too. And probably another fiction book. Look, there are books you read in bed and books you read in the bath and books you read in waiting rooms or in the Mom Line at school. Okay? Okay.
Some of the books that have helped me in my writing journey aren’t craft books. But I highly recommend every book on this list and I hope you’re able to find something here that can help you, too!
THIS book, for example, is not a craft book. It’s a book about body language from a former FBI agent. This was valuable information for me, not just in writing, but for when I’m giving people the side eye in real life.
I bought On Writing — okay, my husband bought me On Writing — during our 11th Anniversary weekend away. I dragged him to our local bookstore and he’s such a good sport, he bought me any book I wanted. I didn’t read this though until about a month later, when I got hit with a double ear infection. “Like a baby!” My doctor told me. I ADORED this book. I wanted to absorb it into my skin. I’m not even a big Stephen King reader! And this…it spoke to my soul, dude. My soul.
Ray Bradbury, I discovered while reading this book (which is a series of essays he wrote about writing) was a discovery writer. Still, his method of writing — how he achieved Zen — made so much sense to me. 1. Do The Work. 2. Don’t Think. 3. Relax. Okay, it’s possible I’ve spoiled the book for you, but it’s still worth reading. It’s short! And it’s Ray Bradbury! You know, from that song! (And if you don’t know that song, and you’re also my mother, for the love of all that is holy don’t search for it on youtube)
Wonderbook is so beautiful! Every page is illustrated. Just opening it and looking at the pages helps get my creativity moving. Plus, the interviews (GRRM is in this, guys! GRRM!) and the author’s take on things were all super helpful. His advice on writing a first chapter was life changing for me. NOT TO BE DRAMATIC.
If there’s an opposite to Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing, it’s Lisa Cron’s Story Genius. She’s a hardcore advocate of plotting before writing. A little too hardcore for me, but the way she creates characters before writing is helpful no matter what type of story teller you are.
Chuck Wendig is hilarious and uses both Die Hard and Star Wars as examples of damn fine stories in his book, aptly titled Damn Fine Story. I just, I love this book. I love it so much. When you want to get to the heart of things, beyond simply plot, this is the book for you.
John Truby’s Anatomy of Story is definitely a craft 201 book. It’s dense. And I mean…dense. You’ll feel like you’ve completed a college level course after reading it. Or, you won’t. Who knows! I did. I recommend it for someone who isn’t quite a beginner but still wants to learn from a master of storytelling.
This book is not a craft book, but is so inspiring for anyone creating their own world or town or anything that requires a map. It’s such a pretty book, too! So it’ll not only be helpful, it’ll look great on your shelf or coffee table!
This book really helped me figure out how in the heck to nail down internal dialogue. I was suffering from major show don’t tell fatigue, and as a result, was losing some heart in the story. This got me through that.
And finally, a book about revision. My favorite book about revision I’ve read so far. I like Dave Kaplan’s approach to punching up prose. That chapter alone is worth the cost of the book. It is an older book, so it might be harder to find, and it’ll be used when you find it, but it’s kinda fun getting a book with someone else’s ideas scribbled in the margins. It’s like a story all in itself!
There are SO MANY more craft books out there — what’s your favorite? Anyones I missed that I need to read ASAP?