I think it’s so easy to get caught up in thinking that this next craft book will open the door for you and make writing a cinch! I’ve had periods in my life where I read more craft books than any other kind of book, which, by the way, I don’t recommend at all. To be a writer, you need to read widely!
So, I enter into this blog post warily and with a big disclaimer: DON’T GET TRAPPED IN THE CRAFT BOOK CYCLE. There are many ways to become a better writer—I’d rate reading (non-craft books), writing (oh, yeah, the actual craft), critiquing (both receiving and giving), and observing (you know, the stuff that you will be writing about) as more important activities than reading craft books.
But that isn’t to say there aren’t some great craft books out there. Here are a few that I find especially helpful and that I recommend again and again.
You need to know the rules before you break them. So, what are the rules?
On Writing Well, William Zinsser
The Elements of Style, Strunk and White
Getting at the Heart of Writing
Why do we write? And how can we get past the fear and other mind traps that keep us from writing?
Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg
The 90-Day Novel, Alan Watt (Note: you don’t even have to follow the day-by-day guide [I didn’t! :-P], but the soul-nurturing advice helped me get through a lot of mental obstacles. I don’t think I would have written my first novel if I’d never read this)
Working Out Plots
What is a “story” anyway? And why do readers burn the midnight oil (or Kindle back light) on some books and toss aside others?
Story Engineering, Larry Brooks
Wired for Story, Lisa Cron
See what some other pretty cool writers have to say on craft books.