Creative Writing – Recommended Books
Over the years, I’ve identified one major quirk about being a writing autodidact: it’s easy to develop an addiction to books. I voraciously consume books on writing, technology, history, politics, economics. Pretty much anything I can lay my hands on. And although I try not to waste my money, sometimes all the reviews in the world can’t help you separate the good from the bad. When it comes to books on the writing craft, I probably have 80 or 90 in my Kindle library. Of those, maybe twenty or so are worth recommending. But hey, if you want to save a little money and let me help you sort the wheat from the chaff, here are my nominations for “Books that are actually worth the money.” Note that each of the book thumbnails below is clickable, and will take you to the Amazon page for the book in question. Also note, I have no skin in this game. I’m not being paid to promote anyone’s work, nor do I get any advertising or ‘click bounty’ money. I’m giving my opinion because the writers below proved valuable in my quest for knowledge.
1.) Thesaurus – By Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi (see also their excellent One Stop for Writers site), the descriptive thesaurus series is so useful that I was inspired to create my own tool. I wrote a little helper app that digitized the contents of their books and put them all under one handy umbrella. I set it up with a snazzy interface that allows me to access anything in any of their books through a single desktop interface. Their books are a must have in my library.
2.) Structure – This is a super important element of commercial fiction. Despite what many writers claim, there is a distinct method to the madness. A discernible structure exists in most successful creative writing. Individual authors may consciously adhere to this structure, or some may be simply using it as a kind of embedded process, invisible, but nonetheless present. In any case, it is instructive to make the effort to understand it. There are lots of different models and approaches, and I’ve read a lot of books on the subject in the attempt to wrap my head around it. Below are my recommendations for books that do a solid job of not only explaining what structure looks like, but why it’s important.
3.) Odds and Ends – Beyond the big picture, there are myriad little elements of the craft of writing, from environmental description to dialogue, to the business and marketing aspects that are, unfortunately, necessary if you want to be successful. Here are my suggestions for a scattering of different odds and ends that I found to be useful reading.
And if all of that isn’t enough, you can find even more excellent creative writing advice at:
- Brandon Sanderson’s award winning Writing Excuses site
- The best (in my opinion) online writing critique community, Scribophile
- Mark Shultz’s Word Refiner site, where I occasionally guest blog