Books you should own. I try to link to the source the author themselves uses on their website, if I can’t find that I’ll use Goodreads. If you’re looking for something to read right now, my Guided Tour has my own writing on it.
I have and use way more books than this, but I’m mostly putting it up so if I talk about the creative exercises I’m doing, I can show you where I found them. I’ll be adding to this list every now and then, making sure to add whatever books are aiding my current writing projects. They are ordered loosely with a general feel for skill-building priorities.
Fantastic reference book on coming up with ideas and developing them; if you have no books on writing yet, I recommend getting this one first. This will get you filling up your journals in no time flat with writing you can adapt to any project you might wish. The exercises make for some fun fieldwork.
If you already have books on writing and are familiar with focused freewriting, browse this book and see if it inspires you.
Another solid reference from Baig. If you buy How to Be a Writer as your first skill book, get this one as your second, but it is a valuable reference on it’s own. I love having the pair of them, and I enjoy browsing them occasionally to keep my writing practice fresh, though admittedly they are inspiration to me now more than they are informative.
Once upon a time the thought of purchasing a laptop or even a skill book seemed laughably irresponsible, though I allowed myself a couple of composition books for journals. I found an idea I still love for a series, and worked hard on it while I was pregnant (knowing that when the baby was born I would have little time to write). I planned as much of the series as I could, brainstorming and world building and following the advice of articles on Pinterest.
And generally wasted my time. When I was in the early process of deciding what would be in book one and starting to write some scenes for it, I luckily ran across this book and realized that I was about to waste my time in an even more soul crushing way, and I needed to revise everything with a focus on the information in this book.
I savor this book in short bursts. Every few days I read a couple of pages before I begin reading a well-crafted story, warming me up to pick up on how different authors handle the subject.
I also use it to help my characterization, setting my heroes loose in various environments simply to learn more about how and why they react to the world the way they do. Great fun.
After a fantastic bought of synchronicity that amused me to no end, this book will always have a fond spot on my shelves. I got it expecting a book on organization tips, and they’re in it, but so is so much more.
In general, it’s a great source for balancing a creative lifestyle with your physical and real-world needs, such as how to set a steady pace and prevent burnout or tension with your family.
This book turned me on to bullet journals, and a quick look around the internet showed me how adaptable it is to a writer’s needs.
Brevity: A Flash Fiction Handbook by David Galef.
Once upon a time I was dirt poor and checked this out from the library. I fell in love with it, diligently took notes so I could refer to a few exercises in it while I waited to be able to afford it. Madly in love with the examples. Writing brief fiction can really hone your writing skills, even if you plan on focusing on longer projects for the most part.
Writing Deep Scenes: Plotting Your Story Through Action, Emotion, & Theme by Martha Alderson and Jordan Rosenfeld.
Looks at the classic 3 act story structure a different way, relying on four critical scenes and ways to add layers of meaning in each stage of the novel. This seemed to help the more non-verbal side of me click, adding extra depth to my understanding. Every time I read about 3 act structure now I mentally round it out and balance it with what this book has taught me.
An in depth look at what monsters mean to us, what they teach us about being human, about our society’s lessons, about what makes us afraid and why, and how to use that to really grab your readers.