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Friday, April 16, 2010

More Good Books for Writers

Building on Sandi's recent posting and my last one, here are four excellent books on writing fiction that I frequently recommend to novelists.

Writing the Breakout Novel and Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass. Clear, practical discussions and exercises for novelists, with plenty of examples. After you've done as much work on your book as you think you can, pick up a copy of Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook and do the exercises from beginning to end. I'd bet money that you'll find a way to make your novel more compelling in any number of ways.

Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell. One of the best books I've ever come across on the mechanics of plot and structure and how they interact. Extremely user-friendly.

Gotham Writers' Workshop: Writing Fiction. Each chapter in this book has been written by a different Gotham Writers' Workshop faculty member and covers a particular element of the novel--plot, character, theme, point of view, and the like. What makes this book one of my favorites: Raymond Carver's short story "Cathedral" is included in its entirety in an appendix, and is referred to repeatedly throughout the book in order to demonstrate various concepts.


  1. Donald Maass has the best writing books out there. I have both of his books and use them frequently and just ordered another one today.
    The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great
    Donald Maass. I also have the James Scott Bell book. Looks like I need to invest in the third one you mention. If it's as good as the others, I can't go wrong

  2. I also like The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman

  3. I have the Noah Lukeman book as well:)

  4. Nan, thanks so much for the kind word. You put me in great company here. I like the Gotham book too, and of course anything by my agent, Donald Maass.

    Great blog.

  5. My favorite book on writing fiction is Stephen Kings On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. What I love about the book is that it's part autobiography and part writing guide--in the first part of the book, King recounts snapshots from his childhood, just a series of fragments, but in these fragments, the reader can see how all these little pieces of the puzzle came together to make a writer.

    The "advice" part of the book is so simple, but so important. He gives writers (or reminds them of) the basic nuts and bolts of writing. I actually use this book in my English 101 class and the students (who actually read it) get a lot out of it.