Useful Books

For the novice writer there is a massive wealth of writing books, websites and general advice that you can take on board when starting out.

These books give you plenty of exercises and outline a lot of the general basics. They tend to be catergorised into `Dialogue’, `Description’,`Characters and Viewpoint‘ etc making it easier to pick specific areas to work on and help you to understand the function of these areas.

Some of them are good, some are terrible but a lot of them will give you the same end advice: That writing advice is a guideline and should not tell you how to write but give you ideas and tips that might help to improve the quality of your work. Of all the books I’ve read I would advise starting out with the:

`Write Great Fiction’ series.

Next I would follow with the books listed below not necessarily in this order. Just read whichever you feel is best.

One word of warning though..

… Don’t get too sidetracked with reading about writing that you don’t actually write.

This is a common problem that writers face as they tend to be constantly distracted by new ideas, books, TV program

mes, films etc. At the end of the day good writing is best learned by plenty of practise.

Recommended Reading List

* Write Great Fiction Series – Different Authors

Cover of

Cover via Amazon

* Elements of Fiction Writing Series – Different Authors

Similiar to WGF series but shorter

* Novelists Essential Guide to crafting scenesRaymond Obstfeld

* Words Fail Me, Woe is I – both by Patricia T O’Connor
Excellent general advice and fun to read. Highly recommended for great advice on general writing structure, getting to the point and putting things in the right order. Absolutely invaluable.

* The New Well-Tempered Sentence. A Handbook for the

Cover of

Cover of The Little Red Writing Book

Innocent, the Eager and the Doomed
Clear explanations of Grammar (which I definately need)

* The Little Red Writing BookBrandon Royal

* Comics and Sequential Art – Will Eisner
A must have if you’re even considering writing for comics or using visual art with language. Explains in-depth how complex this form of story-telling can be and how everything from perspective to the structure of the page can be. Plenty of pictures but can be very technical if you’re not arty-minded.

* Alan Moore’s Writing for Comics
Uses lengthy paragraphs but worth it for some of the advice given especially about the changes in comic book writing since Will Eisner’s guide was published.

* A Dictionary
Always have a dictionary. Don’t just rely on spell-checkers, they can be wrong especially if you hit English-US when you need English-UK (of if you’re MS Word keeps changing the language to US by itself like mine does!)

* A Thesaurus
prefer the Roget’s thesaurus. Very valuable to have but some writers can kill their sentences (as mentioned in Words Fail Me) creating over-flowery sentences when its not necessary. Use wisely.

Recommended books about Publishing and Writing for Money

I have yet to put any of these to practical use myself but I found them all very interesting reading with lots of advice from people who have worked in freelancing and/or publishing for many years.

* The Renegade Writer – A Totally Unconvential Guide to Freelance Writing Success by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell

This one lists many of the basic rules of freelancing and debunks them. It gives clear examples of what has worked for these writers and what hasn’t. For example:

Rule: Start at the Bottom. The book explains how this can be true but that there’s no reason why someone who is confident in their skills and who has great ideas can’t head for the top.

* The Insider’s Guide to Getting Your Book Published – Rachael Stock.
This is written BY a publisher. (Or at least that what it says.) You can’t get more inside than that. She explains markets, profits, contracts and what can immediately send a manuscript to the scrap heap.

So which of all these books is the best, most valuable you ask! The truth is that each of them are good on their own merits. If you are looking for general advice I would go for `Words Fail Me’. If you need help on specific areas search out specific books and learn about that particular area. If it’s writing as a career I’d check out the two books above and search through websites and writer’s markets.


4 thoughts on “Useful Books

  1. Here are a couple of others people might look into:

    On Writing by Stephen King

    The Well-Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman (and it’s follow-ups Back for Seconds and The Well-Fed Self-Publisher

    And, for me, there will always be the marvelously succinct Elements of Style (Strunk & White)!

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