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Craft of Writing Books

I asked some writer friends what craft of writing books they recommend, and here is the list in no particular order (although Bird by Bird was by far the most recommended). I’ve read only 13 of them, so I can’t vouch for all of them. Here they are:

1. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

2. On Writing by Stephen King

3. The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers by Betsy Lerner

4-6. Stein On Writing: A Master Editor of Some of the Most Successful Writers of Our Century Shares His Craft Techniques and Strategies, How to Grow a Novel and Techniques and Strategies by So Stein

7. The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman

8-9. Writing the Breakout Novel and The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great by Donald Maass

10-11. The Artist’s Way and The Right to Write by Julia Cameron

12. If You Want to Write By Barbara Ueland

13. Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft by Janet Burroway and Elizabeth Stuckey-French

14-15. Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within and Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life by Natalie Goldberg

16. Self-Editing For Fiction Writers: How To Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King

17. The Secret Miracle: The Novelist’s Handbook Edited by Daniel Alarcón

18. Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew by Ursula K. Leguin

19. On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser

20. Elements of Writing Fiction: Beginnings, Middles & Ends by Nancy Kress

21. How Not to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them–A Misstep-by-Misstep Guide by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman

22. The Courage To Write: How Writers Transcend Fear by Ralph Keyes

23. The Writing Life by Annie Dillard

24. Carolyn See’s Making a Literary Life

25. Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go by Les Edgerton

26. Word Painting: A Guide to Write More Descriptively by Rebecca McClanahan

27. Between The Lines by Jessica Morrell

28. Ron Carlson Writes a Story by Ron Carlson

29. Story: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee

30. The Art of Dramatic Writing by Laos Egri

31. The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop: A Guide to the Craft of Fiction by Stephen Koch

32. How Fiction Works by James Woods

33. “Theory of Prose” by Viktor Schlovsky

34. The Prentice Hall Guide for Writers by Stephen Reid

35. A Glossary of Literary Terms by M.H. Abrams and Geoffrey Harpham

36. Creative Writing & Rewriting: Contemporary American Novelists at
Work, ed. by John Kuehl.

37. The Art of Subtext by Charles Baxter

38. John McPhee’s intro in the first John McPhee Reader, on his

39. The Essayist at Work, ed. by Lee Gutkind

40. Intimate Journalism: The Art and Craft of Reporting Everyday Life,
by Walt Harrington, Sage, 1997

41. Creative Nonfiction: Researching and Crafting Stories of Real Life,
by Philip Gerard

42. Newsthinking, the Secret of Great Newswriting: How to Master the Pre-
writing Process to Make Your Facts Fall into Place by Bob Baker

For Grammar
43. Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English, Third Edition by Patricia T. O’Conner

44. Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne

4 comments to Craft of Writing Books

  • Jenny T.

    #12 is one of my favorites!

  • Meghan Ward

    Jenny, I own that book, but haven't read it in years. I want to reread it, along with Bird by Bird, which I also haven't read in years!

  • Eunice

    This is an awesome list!! I recently got the book "This Year You Will Write Your Novel" by Walter Mosley. And I'm VERY excited to learn that Daniel Alarcón has a writing book coming out!!

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