Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Books for Writers

We all know a good story when we hear one.  If a story is amazing then we can't stop thinking about it, we stay up late reading it, we tell everyone we know that they have to read it too.  Many people who love to read good stories, or hear good stories also like to write them too.  However, the discipline of writing can be difficult.  To those who love books and stories, reading comes easy.  All you have to do is pick up the story and lose yourself in it, but getting started writing a story to lose yourself in can be tricky.  There are so many books to help you with writing that it can be hard to pick just one to focus on.  Here is a list of my favorite books on writing:

Wired for Story: The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence by Lisa Cron
I happened to find myself leafing through this book, and when a fellow library worker saw me with it he praised it so much I knew I had to read it.  This book shows the neuroscience behind our reaction to storytelling to help you write the best story you can.  The science is fascinating, and the tips are helpful.

You Can't Make this Stuff Up: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction -- From Memoir to Literary Journalism and Everything in Between by Lee Gutkind
This book helped define "creative non-fiction" for me by showing me that non-fiction can be as exciting to read as fiction if you write it well.  This book also includes a list of great and not great creative non-fiction written over the past twenty years.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
I was thrilled when someone recommended this book to me several years ago.  If there's any writer who should write a book on writing it's King, who has published novels, short stories, non-fiction, and screenplays over the past forty years.  This book is part memoir, part reminiscing about writing his books, and part giving advice to those who wish to write their own.  It's a great book no matter how you read it. 

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg
This book was first published in 1986, and has become a favorite among writing workshops, with its combination of Zen wisdom and tips to get the creative juices flowing.  Goldberg (who lives in Northern New Mexico, where she often gives writing workshops) has published other books on writing, including one due to come out this spring, The True Secret of Writing: Connecting Life With Language. 

Only As Good As Your Word by Susan Shapiro
Shapiro tells the story about her formation and education as a writer with lessons from her writing mentors.  This is an interesting book because it is the memoir of a struggling writer, with advice from old writing professionals. 

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
You can't be a good writer without at least thinking of grammar and references.  This is classic book to answer the little questions about errors that plague you while writing.

There are many more books about writing, so many that I'm sure I haven't even heard of something that might be your favorite.  There are websites with prompts to get you started, there are writing groups to help you through the rough patches, but the best writing education is a love of reading and a passion for telling a good story.  Happy storytelling!

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