I’ve found that books about writing are one of those hit and miss affairs. There’s so much out there it’s difficult to narrow down the field to ones you’re going to find helpful. And not every book is going to be helpful to every writer! Why do we even bother?
All I can do is offer you a selection of books I have found helpful and inspiring, all for different reasons.
How To Write Your Blockbuster – Fiona McIntosh
Kicking off with my favourite writing book! How To Write Your Blockbuster is a no-nonsense guide to writing commercial fiction from one of Australia’s best selling authors. The caveat here is
“commercial fiction”. Just like Fiona’s masterclass, this book is all about writing with the aim of getting your book traditionally published.
Filled with excellent advice and activities on character, dialogue, pacing and rhythm, it also talks about the pointy end of the writing to publishing stick: submission, synopsis, deadlines, and editing. If your goal is to be published one day, definitely check this book out.
On Writing – Stephen King
Part writing guide, part memoir, Stephen King’s On Writing is a classic. It can be fascinating and inspiring read but also intimidating for the struggling writer, particularly if your methods don’t match up to King’s.
This book is very basic in its writing advice – an advanced masterclass it is not. I loved the conversational tone of the work but, as with any writing advice, you should pick and choose what will work for you. Take this book with a grain of salt but enjoy the ride. If nothing else, it’s an enthralling look into the life and process of a prolific, bestselling author.
The Kick-Ass Writer – Chuck Wendig
Those of you who read Chuck Wendig’s fabulous blog Terrible Minds will be familliar with his irreverant comic writing advice. This book has 1001 writing tips (in manageable groups of 25) covering the fundamentals, the craft, and publishing and earning your audience.
Since this book is broken up into bite-sized pieces of writing advice it’s super easy to power through. Each chapter is a new (and clearly labeled) list of 25 tips so you can start anywhere without worrying you’ve missed something. This also makes it really easy to go back and locate things you found helpful again and again.
No Plot? No Problem! – Chris Baty
From the founder of Nanowrimo, No Plot? No Problem! is all about getting your bare bones first draft down in 30 days, whether that’s during a Nanowrimo event or any other time of the year.
Baty breaks the month down into four weeks with advice and pep talks for the problems he and thousands of other writers face at each point of the annual writing marathon. It’s bookended with chapters on how to prepare and where to go once that first draft is down. Most of all, it helps you give yourself permission to suck. This is a first draft after all! You can’t edit and improve a blank page.
But in the end, the very best writing advice I’ve ever found is this: Start writing, keep writing and do whatever works for you. It doesn’t matter what path you take, we all get there in different ways.