I’ve been doing a workshop on research, which led to my digging out some old notes on useful writing books. This is the short list of the books that have taught me so very much about writing–these are the books I still have on my shelf, the ones I go back to for a refresher course. These books may speak to you, or may not, but if you find one good piece of advice and some entertainment, these will have served you well, too.
Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott — some instructions on writing and life, the perfect inspiration book
The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron — a workshop on how to unblock any blocks
The Courage to Write, Ralph Keys — one of the best books ever written on writing
A Manual Of Writer’s Tricks, David L. Carroll — a great idea generator
Characters & Viewpoint, Orson Scott Card — How to invent, construct and animate vivid, credible characters and choose the best eyes through which to view the events of your short story or novel
Creating Characters, Dwight Swain — great advice for beginners and for experienced writers
Techniques of the Selling Writer, Dwight Swain — teaches the bones of story structure
Story, Rober McKee — get the CD, or take his workshop, the book is so dense it’s very heavy going, but there’s a tone of great story structure basics here
Write Away: One Novelist’s Approach to Fiction and the Writing Life, Elizabeth George — Fabulous book, but will be more useful for an experienced writer to take her writing to the next step
On Writing, Stephen King — simple clear advice on keeping writing simple, clear and powerful
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Renni Browne & Dave King–a book I still keep right beside by desk and these days every writer needs to learn how to edit her work.
How to Write Romances, Phyllis Taylor Pianka — the basics of the genre
The Art of Fiction, John Gardener — wonderful writing about writing