Favourite Writing Books
Part 1: Art (Writing & Revising)
Download PDF

The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing: Everything You Need to Know ABout Creating & Selling Your Work (2nd Edition, Writer’s Digest, 2010) — With 77 chapters by different authors, this book covers inspiration, plot, characters, methods, revision, style, publishing, readers, and purpose.

The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman (Touchstone, 2000) — I love that this book is structured according to the order an editor looks at elements of a manuscript, but I found the examples of bad writing too ridiculous to be truly helpful.

How to Tell a Story: The Secrets of Writing Captivating Tales by Peter Rubie and Gary Provost (Writer’s Digest Books, 1998) — The first writing book I ever bought (when I was a teenager); the formula for structuring a novel helped greatly in outlining The Cause of These Disturbances. 

Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore by Elizabeth Lyon (TarcherPerigree, 2008) — Foundational and comprehensive; I especially appreciate the emphasis on characterization as it relates to plot, setting, and theme, and – of course – I love the checklists in each chapter.

Revision and Self-Editing: Techniques for Transforming Your First Draft Into a Finished Novel by James Scott Bell (Writer’s Digest, 2008) –- This book has enough exercises to keep you working on the same novel for the rest of your life.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King (2nd Edition, William Morrow, 2004) — This guide concisely covers issues from characterization to voice (with checklists so you don’t even have to take notes). Bonus: the exercises (with sample answers) urge you to take writing from good to great.