5 Great Books on Writing

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Like most writers, I’m addicted to books on the craft. Reading books that talk about writing and dispense advice and tips gets me fired up like nothing else. Though innumerable books exist out there to help writers on every topic imaginable, there are a few I turn to quite often.

Solutions for Writers by Sol Stein

I bought this book in a WHSmith store in Belfast many years ago, just when I was setting out to write fiction. It took a while for me to properly understand the lessons embedded in each chapter and incorporate them into my fiction. With the aid of examples galore, this book illustrates every salient feature of good fiction.

2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron

Any writer who’s looking to improve their speed and productivity of writing fiction and novels must read this book! Rachel Aaron explains how she went from writing 2k words per day to 10k words per day.

Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark

I bought this paperback on a whim, but it turned out a fabulous book to help refine writing skills on a technical, sentence level. Every chapter suggests a new strategy and explains it with examples. Exercises at the end of each chapter

Be a Successful writer: 55 surefire checklists by Gordon Wells

This is a golden oldie, filled with advice that may not work for you today but also a lot that will. I remember wandering through the aisles of the book fair in New Delhi when my eye fell on this. It spurred me to pick up the writing habit ages ago, and I’m glad to say the habit stuck!

Self-editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King

This is one for novelists looking to revise and edit their completed novels, to prepare them for querying and submission. Dave King also writes a column on Writers Unboxed where he dissects sample pages sent to him.

That’s five of my most frequently referred writing books. I know On Writing by Stephen King ranks as a favourite among most writers, and I’ve read it too. However, I’ll be frank and say it didn’t work for me as well as the above books. I found it generic and lacking actionable advice, though I quite enjoyed learning about his writing journey and how he writes thousand words every day.

Do you have any favourite books on writing? Let me know in the comments!

2 comments

  1. Dean Koontz’s How to write Best-Selling Fiction. Koontz may be a surprise for you to find on this list but this is the best thing he wrote, as far as I know and the book to read first if you can bear the cost..
    William Sloane’s The Craft of Writing. Excellent short treatment.
    John Gardner’s On Becoming a Novelist, The Art of Fiction, and On Moral Fiction. All must reads, perhaps in the order of listing.
    Self Editing for Fiction Writers, Browne and King. A Great Book.
    David Morrell’s Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing: A Novelist Looks at His Craft. The chapter on first-person is an absolute necessity for any writer.
    This is the best foundation for all writers.There is a plethora of books on the writing of fiction, most of which do not stand up to these. Read these first and see what you think. I have worked with writers for forty years, and more than a hundred novels have been published by my proteges. Many of them have been best sellers. See, for instance, Steve Berry’s novels, the Warsaw Protocol and note his dedication and acknowledgment pages.

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