From time to time in writing communities some one asks what writing books are the best. The idea of “best” depends upon what a person is looking for and what level of writing experience he has. Some writers want motivation and inspiration. Others want how-to information centered on the mechanics of writing. Others want story structure or scene structure, and so on.
Here are some of the books I have learned from with a suggested target reader:
Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass – for the more advance writer
Description by Monica Wood – for the more advance writer
Stein on Writing by Sol Stein – for the more advance writer
Getting into Character by Brandilyn Collins – for the writer with a particular need to focus on this topic
Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell – for the writer with a particular need to focus on this topic
Crafting Scenes by Raymond Obstfeld – for the writer with a particular need to focus on this topic
How to Write a Damn Good Novel II by James N. Frey – for the writer with some basic knowledge and experience
Self-editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King– for the writer with some basic knowledge and experience
The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman– for the beginning writer
Even though I’ve indicated who I think might be the target reader, in reality, writers can learn from all sorts of books. I’ve read some on this list multiple times and learned new things on each occasion. Even an advanced writer can benefit from reading a book geared more toward beginners.
Ideally a writer will purchase his own copy of these books in order to underline and make notes in the margin. If cost is an issue, however, look for these in your public library. And prepared to take careful notes on paper.