My favourite writing craft books

I do love reading about writing. And talking about writing and wittering on at length about writing, as you might have noticed. So I thought I’d do a post about my favourite writing craft books. I’ve got a lot of writing books, but these are ones I keep close at hand. (All links point to Goodreads.)


Self-Editing for Fiction writers by Browne and King
An excellent practical guide for polishing your MS. It’s given me words to live by as an author. Like R.U.E. (Resist the Urge to Explain) and “Once is Usually Enough”.
For a more general view of editing, before the polishing stage try Revision and Self-Editing by James Scott Bell.

Speaking of James Scott Bell, I also like Write Great Fiction: Plot and Structure Perfect for outlining types like me. Another excellent one for that is Beginnings, Middle and Ends by Nancy Kress.

An essential for me is English Grammar for Dummies.
Presented in the fun and accessible style of the Dummies books. I need this because grammar is something I absorbed from reading. Formal instruction in grammar was out of style when I was at school. I can no more “diagram a sentence” than I can fly. I worked through this book a chapter a day, treating each chapter as a lesson.

My favourite books about creating characters are both by Nancy Kress
Charaters, Emotion and Viewpoint
Dynamic Characters
Both great and though the overall subject is the same they don’t cover all the same ground. I’d say get them both if you can, but if I had to choose one or the other, I’d go for Dynamic Characters, for the Character Intelligence Dossier, which is a really good character questionnaire, which generates as many ideas as it does collect trivial facts about a character.

For pure entertainment, few writing books beat How Not to Write a Novel by Howard Mittlemark and Sandra Newman. A hilarious journey through all the potential mistakes the novelist can fall into as they pursue publication. Laugh and then cringe as you go “oh, I do that…” In a similar, if not as hilarious vein is The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes. All short and great for dipping into for reminders when you have a moment to spare.

And last but not least, getting specific for m/m writers, Josh Lanyon’s Man, Oh Man! Writing M/M Fiction for Kinks & Cash Features loads of contributions from authors, editors and publishers in the genre.

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One thought on “My favourite writing craft books

  1. Well, I’ve read a couple of those, due to your recommendation, and I really do need to reread Self Editing For Fiction Writers again, I think.

    A good punctuation one is Getting The Point by Jenny Haddon & Elizabeth Hawklsey (sorry don’t know how to put the link in) and I really enjoyed reading Love Writing (How to make money writing romantic or erotic fiction) by Sue Moorcroft, and On Writing by Stephen King.

    All have been useful and good to have on the bookshelf as a reference!

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