Even if you’re not new to writing, I’ve found these books to be very helpful. At the bottom of the page you’ll find a brief bio for the content curator of this course.
General Reading on Writing:
- No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 days by Chris Baty
Chris Baty founded National Novel Writing Month, where writers from around the world try to write 50,000 words in a month. This book helps beginners turn their ideas into novels with lots of pep talks from others who’ve gone before.
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
King talks about the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. His advice is grounded in his life and as a struggling, emerging writer. He also explains how the link between writing and living spurred his recovery after a near-fatal accident in 1999.
- Around the Writer’s Block: Using Brain Science to Solve Writer’s Resistance by Rosanne Bane
Bane’s three-part plan, which has improved the productivity of thousands of writers, helps you develop new reliable writing habits, rewire the brain’s responses to the anxiety of writing, and turn writing from a source of stress and anxiety into one of joy and personal growth.
- Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew by Ursula K. Le Guin
This book covers the basic elements of narrative: how a story is told, what moves it and what clogs it. Each topic includes examples that clarify and exercises that intensify awareness of the techniques of storytelling.
- Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Dynamic Characters and Effective Viewpoints by Nany Kress
Explains how to create three-dimensional and believable characters, develop their emotions, create realistic love, fight, and death scenes, and use frustration to motivate your characters and drive your story.
- Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers From Start to Finish by James Scott Bell
Explains how to create strong beginnings, middles, and ends. Includes 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, and tips and tools for correcting common plot problems.
- Description & Setting: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Believable World of People, Places, and Events by Ron Rozelle
Explains how to establish a realistic sense of time and place, use description and setting to drive your story, keep excess description from cluttering your story, craft effective description and setting for different genres, and skillfully master showing vs. telling.
- Dialogue: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Effective Dialogue by Gloria Kempton
Explains how to create dialogue that drives the story, weave dialogue with narrative and action, use dialogue to pace your story, write dialogue that fits specific genres, avoid the common pitfalls of writing dialogue, and make dialogue unique for each character.
- Revision & Self-Editing: Techniques for Transforming Your First Draft Into a Finished Novel by James Scott Bell
Write a cleaner first draft right out of the gate using Bell’s plotting principles. Get the most out of revision and self-editing techniques by honing your skills with detailed exercises. Systematically revise a completed draft using the ultimate revision checklist that walks you through the core story elements.
Anna Jordan Draves is a librarian in Boston who has been writing for most of her life. She has been a Municipal Liaison for National Novel Writing Month since 2006, and her favorite genre is gay romance mixed with fantasy and mystery/suspense. Some of her favorite authors and books, among a variety of genres, include:
Josh Lanyon – Come Unto These Yellow Sands
Ginn Hale – The Shattered Gates (book 1 of The Rifter trilogy)
Jordan Castillo Price – Among the Living (book 1 of her Psycop series)
Dean Koontz – One Door Away From Heaven, Dark Rivers of the Heart
Amor Towels – A Gentleman in Moscow
Fredrik Backman – A Man Called Ove
Ursula K. LeGuin – The Left Hand of Darkness
Jeff Garvin – Symptoms of Being Human
Ada Maria Soto – His Quiet Agent
Kelly Haworth – Y Negative
Brian Jacques – Redwall (book 1 of the Redwall series)
Gina Damico – Croak (book 1 of the Croak trilogy)
Mary Stewart – The Crystal Cave (book 1 of her Authurian Saga series)
Joseph Hansen – Fadeout (book 1 of his Dave Brandstetter series)
(This website was last updated August 2018.)