Great Books on Writing

Below are some fabulous resources for writers. Well, I think so anyway. Let me know there are others I should add!

Click here to see my very own 5-star rating system for all books I read.

Beinhart, Larry. How to Write A Mystery. New York, Ballantine, 1996. Print.

4-stars. This is an entertaining book full of great stuff on craft. Though it claims to be about how to write a mystery, it has great information for all writers, including chapters on plotting, characters, hooks, sex, violence, and so on. I’ve read this book cover to cover twice.

Block, Laurence. Telling Lies for Fun and Profit. New York,  Arbor House, 1981. Print.

4-stars. Laurence Block is always entertaining. In this book, he entertains while imparting his wisdom on the craft of writing and on the writer’s life. A very good read.

Card, Orson Scott. How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy. Cincinnati, Writer’s Digest, 1990. Print.

4-stars. I love the way Orson Scott Card writes. He weaves a lovely tale of how to nurture ideas, develop plot, sketch a scene, build a world, and on and on. This is a great read for anyone, even if you aren’t writing science fiction or fantasy.

Evanovich, Janet. How I Write. New York, St Martin’s Griffin, 2006. Print.

4-stars. Written as a Q & A. A quick, informative, and inspiring read.

Field, Syd. Screenplay: The Foundations of Screen Writing. New York, Dell, 1984. Print.

5-stars. Movies have to move fast. There are no wasted scenes. This look at screenplay writing offers novelists some powerful tools to improve their craft. A must-read.

King, Stephen. On Writing. New York, Pocket Books, 2000. Print.

4-stars. I don’t think there can be any argument: Stephen King is one of the greats. His book On Writing is part memoir and part advice on craft. It’s a great read. Funny. Inspirational. And of course, part horror, too.

Maass, Donald. Writing 21st Century Fiction. Cincinnati: Writers Digest, 2012. Print.

5-stars. Don Maass is a very successful agent in New York and the advice he gives in his books and in his workshops really makes sense to me. The man knows what makes stories work! This is a very readable book, full of excellent information on craft. A definite must on every serious writer’s shelf.

 Maass, Donald. The Fire in Fiction. Cincinnati, Writers Digest, 2009. Print.

4-stars. Full of great information about crafting a really good story. Also a must on that shelf. In the first copy I received (I ordered it online), pages 123 – 154 were inserted upside-down and backwards (as a group). Odd. I returned the book to the store for a new copy. Same deal. Does anyone else have this creative paging system?

See, Carolyn. Making a Literary Life. New York, Ballantine, 2002. Print.

4-stars. This is the first book I read on writing. I had always wanted to write a book, but it was always something off in the future. Then I read this book, and it inspired me to bring my writing into the now. I don’t know how I’d rate it now, if I read it for the first time in this point in my writing journey. I suspect only 3-stars. It has some impractical suggestions, but some really good advice too. And if you’re looking for inspiration, this is a great book.

Smith, James V., Jr. The Writer’s Little Helper. Cincinnati, Writers Digest, 2006. Print.

5-stars. This book is made up of a whole bunch of mini 2- or 3-page chapters on craft, and each is super dense with great, hands-on ideas for writing and/or editing a great story.

Strunk, William, Jr., and White, E.B.. The Elements of Style. New York, Longman, 1999. Print.

I guess technically I should rate this book as a 1-star, since I started reading it, but just couldn’t finish it. Though it is humorous, the plot is just to thin for me. I refer back to it often, though, so I think it deserves a few more than just that one star.