riting is an essential part of communication. It’s even more crucial in business, career development, and if you want to be an author. Writing allows you to facilitate clear communication between peers, customers, and business transactions. Business writing can include marketing materials, training or education content, reports, presentations, emails, memos. standard operating procedures, among others.
Best Books on Writing: THE LIST
|1. On Writing|
|2. The Elements of Style|
|3. How to Write Bestselling Fiction|
|4. The War of Art|
|5. Stein on Writing|
|7. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers|
|8. Writing the Breakout Novel|
|9. The Writing Life|
|10. The Writer’s Journey|
|11. Story Genius|
|12. On Writing Well|
|13. The Writing Life|
|14. Getting into Character|
|15. Plot & Structure|
|16. The Situation and the Story|
|17. Bird by Bird|
|18. Letters to a Young Writer|
|19. Big Magic|
1. On Writing | By Stephen King
Immensely helpful and illuminating to any aspiring writer, Stephen King’s critically lauded, “one of a kind” (Wall Street Journal) classic bestseller shares the experiences, habits, and convictions that have shaped him and his work.
“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, a part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must-have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly, and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it—fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.
2. The Elements of Style | By William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
You know the authors’ names. You recognize the title. You’ve probably used this book yourself. This is The Elements of Style, the classic style manual, now in a fourth edition. A new Foreword by Roger Angell reminds readers that the advice of Strunk & White is as valuable today as when it was first offered. This book’s unique tone, wit, and charm have conveyed the principles of English style to millions of readers. Use the fourth edition of “the little book” to make a big impact on writing.
3. How to Write Bestselling Fiction | By Dean Koontz
4. The War of Art | By Steven Pressfield and Shawn Coyne
What keeps so many of us from doing what we long to do?
Why is there a naysayer within? How can we avoid the roadblocks of any creative endeavor—be it starting up a dream business venture, writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece?
Bestselling novelist Steven Pressfield identifies the enemy that every one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer this internal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success.
The War of Art emphasizes the resolve needed to recognize and overcome the obstacles of ambition and then effectively shows how to reach the highest level of creative discipline.
Think of it as tough love . . . for yourself.
Whether an artist, writer, or business person, this simple, personal, and no-nonsense book will inspire you to seize the potential of your life.
5. Stein on Writing | By Sol Stein
Your future as a writer is in your hands. Whether you are a newcomer or an accomplished professional, a novelist, story writer, or a writer of nonfiction, you will find this book a wealth of immediately useful guidance not available anywhere else. Sol Stein, renowned editor, author, and instructor explains, “This is not a book of theory. It is a book of useable solutions– how to fix writing that is flawed, how to improve writing that is good, how to create interesting writing in the first place.”
You will find one of the great unspoken secrets of craftsmanship in Chapter 5, called “Markers: The Key to Swift Characterization.” In Chapter 7, Stein reveals for the first time in print the wonderful system for creating instant conflict developed in the Playwrights Group of the Actors Studio, of which he was a founder. In “Secrets of Good Dialogue,” the premier teacher of dialogue gives you the instantly useable techniques that not only make verbal exchanges exciting but that move the story forward immediately. You won’t need to struggle with flashbacks or background material after you’ve read Chapter 14, which shows you how to bring the background into the foreground.
Writers of both fiction and nonfiction will relish the amphetamines for speeding up pace, and the many ways to liposuction flab, as well as how to tap originality and recognize what successful titles have in common. You’ll discover literary values that enhance writing, providing depth and resonance. You’ll bless the day you read Chapters 32 and 33 and discover why revising by starting at page one can be a serious mistake, and how to revise without growing cold on your manuscript.
In the pages of this book, nonfiction writers will find a passport to the new revolution in journalism and a guide to using the techniques of fiction to enhance nonfiction. Fresh, useful, informative, and fun to read and reread, Stein on Writing is a book you will mark up, dog-ear, and cherish.
6. Hooked | By Les Edgerton
The road to rejection is paved with bad beginnings. Agents and editors agree: Improper story beginnings are the single biggest barrier to publication. Why? If a novel or short story has a bad beginning, then no one will keep reading. It’s just that simple. In Hooked, author Les Edgerton draws on his experience as a successful fiction writer and teacher to help you overcome the weak openings that lead to instant rejection by showing you how to successfully use the ten core components inherent to any great beginning. You’ll find: • Detailed instruction on how to develop your inciting incident • Keys for creating a cohesive story-worthy problem • Tips on how to avoid common opening gaffes like overusing backstory • A rundown on basics such as opening scene length and transitions • A comprehensive analysis of more than twenty great opening lines from novels and short stories Plus, you’ll discover exclusive insider advice from agents and acquiring editors on what they look for in a strong opening. With Hooked, you’ll have all the information you need to craft a compelling beginning that lays the foundation for an irresistible story!
7. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers | By Renni Brown and Dave King
Hundreds of books have been written on the art of writing. Here at last is a book by two professional editors to teach writers the techniques of the editing trade that turn promising manuscripts into published novels and short stories.
In this completely revised and updated second edition, Renni Browne and Dave King teach you, the writer, how to apply the editing techniques they have developed to your own work. Chapters on dialogue, exposition, point of view, interior monologue, and other techniques take you through the same processes an expert editor would go through to perfect your manuscript. Each point is illustrated with examples, many drawn from the hundreds of books Browne and King have edited.
8. Writing the Breakout Novel | By Donald Maass
Take your fiction to the next level!
Maybe you’re a first-time novelist looking for practical guidance. Maybe you’ve already been published, but your latest effort is stuck in mid-list limbo. Whatever the case may be, author and literary agent Donald Maass can show you how to take your prose to the next level and write a breakout novel – one that rises out of obscurity and hits the best-seller lists.
Maass details the elements that all breakout novels share – regardless of genre – then shows you writing techniques that can make your own books stand out and succeed in a crowded marketplace.
You’ll learn to:
• establish a powerful and sweeping sense of time and place
• weave subplots into the main action for a complex, engrossing story
• create larger-than-life characters that step right off the page
• explore universal themes that will interest a broad audience of readers
• sustain a high degree of narrative tension from start to finish
• develop an inspired premise that sets your novel apart from the competition
Then, using examples from the recent works of several best-selling authors – including novelist Anne Perry – Maass illustrates methods for upping the ante in every aspect of your novel writing. You’ll capture the eye of an agent, generate publisher interest, and lay the foundation for a promising career.
9. The Writing Life | By Annie Dillard
In this collection of short essays, Annie Dillard—the author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and An American Childhood—illuminates the dedication, absurdity, and daring that characterize the existence of a writer. A moving account of Dillard’s own experience, The Writing Life offers deep insight into one of the most mysterious professions.
10. The Writer’s Journey | By Christopher Vogler
Originally an influential memo Vogler wrote for Walt Disney Animation executives regarding The Lion King, The Writer’s Journey details a twelve-stage, myth-inspired method that has galvanized Hollywood’s treatment of cinematic storytelling. A format that once seldom deviated beyond a traditional three-act blueprint, Vogler’s comprehensive theory of story structure and character development has met with universal acclaim and is detailed herein using examples from myths, fairy tales, and classic movies. This book has changed the face of screenwriting worldwide over the last 25 years and continues to do so.
11. Story Genius | By Lisa Cron
Following on the heels of Lisa Cron’s breakout first book, Wired for Story, this writing guide reveals how to use cognitive storytelling strategies to build a scene-by-scene blueprint for a riveting story.
It’s every novelist’s greatest fear: pouring their blood, sweat, and tears into writing hundreds of pages only to realize that their story has no sense of urgency, no internal logic, and so is a page one rewrite.
The prevailing wisdom in the writing community is that there are just two ways around this problem: pantsing (winging it) and plotting (focusing on the external plot). Story coach Lisa Cron has spent her career discovering why these methods don’t work and coming up with a powerful alternative, based on the science behind what our brains are wired to crave in every story we read (and it’s not what you think).
In Story Genius Cron takes you, step-by-step, through the creation of a novel from the first glimmer of an idea, to a complete multilayered blueprint—including fully realized scenes—that evolves into a first draft with the authority, richness, and command of a riveting sixth or seventh draft.
12. On Writing Well | By William Zinsser
On Writing Well has been praised for its sound advice, its clarity, and the warmth of its style. It is a book for everybody who wants to learn how to write or who needs to do some writing to get through the day, as almost everybody does in the age of e-mail and the Internet.
Whether you want to write about people or places, science and technology, business, sports, the arts, or about yourself in the increasingly popular memoir genre, On Writing Well offers you fundamental principles as well as the insights of a distinguished writer and teacher. With more than a million copies sold, this volume has stood the test of time and remains a valuable resource for writers and would-be writers.
13. The Writing Life | By Marie Arana
Featuring a gathering of more than fifty of contemporary literature’s finest voices, this volume will enchant, move, and inspire readers with its tales of The Writing Life. In it, authors divulge professional secrets: how they first discovered they were writers, how they work, how they deal with the myriad frustrations and delights a writer’s life affords. Culled from ten years of the distinguished Washington Post column of the same name, The Writing Life highlights an eclectic group of luminaries who have wildly varied stories to tell, but who share this singularly beguiling career. Here are their pleasures as well as their peeves; revelations of their deepest fears; dramas of triumphs and failures; insights into the demands and rewards.
Each piece is accompanied by a brief and vivid biography of the writer by Washington Post Book World editor Marie Arana who also provides an introduction to the collection. The result is a rare view from the inside: a close examination of writers’ concerns about the creative process and the place of literature in America. For anyone interested in the making of fiction and nonfiction, here is a fascinating vantage on the writer’s world — an indispensable guide to the craft.
14. Getting into Character | By Brandilyn Collins
Revised with some new material gathered through 13 years of teaching these concepts at writers conferences. Want to bring characters to life on the page as vividly as fine actors do on the stage or screen? Getting Into Character will give you a whole new way of thinking about your writing. Drawing on the Method Acting theory that theater professionals have used for decades, this in-depth guide explains seven characterization techniques and adapts them for the novelist’s use. You’ll discover concepts that will lead you to understand and communicate the motivation and psychology of all your characters. These highly effective techniques will help you: ~ create characters whose distinctive traits become plot components ~ determine each character’s specific objectives and motivations ~ write natural, meaningful dialogue that moves the story forward ~ endow your characters with three-dimensional emotional lives ~ use character motivation to bring action sequences to exuberant life ~ write convincingly about any character facing any circumstance
15. Plot & Structure | By James Scott Bell
How does plot influence story structure? What’s the difference between plotting for commercial and literary fiction? How do you revise a plot or structure that’s gone off course?
With Write Great Fiction: Plot & Structure, you’ll discover the answers to these questions and more. Award-winning author James Scott Bell offers clear, concise information that will help you create a believable and memorable plot, including:
• Techniques for crafting strong beginnings, middles, and ends
• Easy-to-understand plotting diagrams and charts
• Brainstorming techniques for original plot ideas
• Thought-provoking exercises at the end of each chapter
• Story structure models and methods for all genres
• Tips and tools for correcting common plot problems
Filled with plot examples from popular novels, comprehensive checklists, and practical hands-on guidance, Write Great Fiction: Plot & Structure gives you the skills you need to approach plot and structure like an experienced pro.
16. The Situation and the Story | By Vivian Gornick
A guide to the art of personal writing, by the author of Fierce Attachments and The End of the Novel of Love.
All narrative writing must pull from the raw material of life a tale that will shape experience, transform event, deliver a bit of wisdom. In a story or a novel the “I” who tells this tale can be, and often is, an unreliable narrator but in nonfiction the reader must always be persuaded that the narrator is speaking truth.
How does one pull from one’s own boring, agitated self the truth-speaker who will tell the story a personal narrative needs to tell? That is the question The Situation and the Story asks–and answers. Taking us on a reading tour of some of the best memoirs and essays of the past hundred years, Gornick traces the changing idea of self that has dominated the century, and demonstrates the enduring truth-speaker to be found in the work of writers as diverse as Edmund Gosse, Joan Didion, Oscar Wilde, James Baldwin, or Marguerite Duras.
This book, which grew out of fifteen years teaching in MFA programs, is itself a model of the lucid inteligence that has made Gornick one of our most admired writers of ninfiction. In it, she teaches us to write by teaching us how to read: how to recognize truth when we hear it in the writing of others and in our own.
17. Bird by Bird | By Anne Lamott
For a quarter-century, more than a million readers—scribes and scribblers of all ages and abilities—have been inspired by Anne Lamott’s hilarious, big-hearted, homespun advice. Advice that begins with the simple words of wisdom passed down from Anne’s father—also a writer—in the iconic passage that gives the book its title:
“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’”
18. Letters to a Young Writer | By Colum McCann
Intriguing and inspirational, this book is a call to look outward rather than inward. McCann asks his readers to constantly push the boundaries of experience, to see empathy and wonder in the stories we craft and hear.
A paean to the power of language, both by argument and by example, Letters to a Young Writer is fierce and honest in its testament to the bruises delivered by writing as both a profession and a calling. It charges aspiring writers to learn the rules and even break them.
These fifty-two essays are ultimately a profound challenge to a new generation to bring truth and light to a dark world through their art.
19. Big Magic | By Elizabeth Gilbert
From the worldwide bestselling author of Eat Pray Love and City of Girls: the path to the vibrant, fulfilling life you’ve dreamed of.
Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now, this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.
Final Thoughts on the Best Books on Writing
Writing skills are critical to foster effective communication, boost credibility, separate bad employees from good employees, keeping records, boost confidence, create opportunities, show expertise, establish a strong web presence, command respect, and establish relationships.
Do you see a book that you think should be on the list? Let us know your feedback here.