We here at Writer’s Block Party loooooove talking about process. (If that wasn’t obvious by now, you probably haven’t been here that long!) Whenever one of us is stuck or just thinking about a certain aspect of writing, we always turn to each other for tips, advice, and strategies. For instance, right now I’m starting the process of developing brand new story ideas, and I’ve been bugging everyone nonstop to tell me about how they brainstorm and start new projects (you may have seen me at it last week).
Unfortunately, I can’t bother my talented friends 24/7, so to give them a break, I made them tell me their favorite books on writing. Here’s what they said:
THE ANATOMY OF STORY by John Truby
Akshaya says: Anatomy of a Story is a workshop book rather than one designed to help writers improve on a particular skill. What I mean by that is that if you read the book and do all the worksheets, what you end up with is the foundations of a story that you’ve built from the ground up. I’ll admit it’s quite a long, dense read, so my suggestion is not to rush through it and spend time actually doing the worksheets with your WIP. For a longer, more detailed review of the book, check out this review from honorary WBP member, Amanda Haas.
The EMOTIONAL CRAFT OF FICTION by Donald Maass
Mara says: This book centers on an element of story that is not often discussed in craft books, but is absolutely vital: the emotional experience a book invokes in its readers. We love our favorite books because they take us on emotional journeys. As writers, our first inclination when trying to create one of these journeys is often to simply portray what the characters are feeling as they feel it. This book challenges you by suggesting that relaying character emotion is not the same as provoking emotion in your reader. It’s a great read for anyone, and an especially great read for anyone interested in the “subjectivity” of publishing: what makes agents and editors respond to a book on a visceral level? What makes people fall madly in love with books that are more or less “average” when it comes to craft?
ON WRITING WELL by William Zinsser
Axie says: For actually studying craft (how to write effectively) I recommend On Writing Well by William Zinsser. Though it’s about nonfiction writing, it really explains the experience of “writing well,” if that makes sense, apart from just reading well-written books.
Axie also recommends: The Art of Character is great for studying characters, Structuring Your Novel is great for…structuring your novel & 2k to 10k is great for drafting.
SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS by Dave King and Renni Browne
Foody says: As a beginning writer, this book opened my eyes to how crucial revisions are to the writing process. After all, writing is rewriting. This book walks you through the basic ways to take your draft to a polished, professional book, and it develops your critical eye for editing even your own writing.
BIG MAGIC by Elizabeth Gilbert
Katy says: This isn’t really a craft book, but I’m including it anyway because I absolutely love it. It’s one of my favorite books “on writing” because it neither puts the writing process on a pedestal nor does it dismiss the magic inherent in it. Elizabeth Gilbert’s writing is charming, humorous, and playful. This is the book I turn to when I need to remind myself that writing, above all, should be fun.
For more craft book recommendations, check out this vlog that Kat put up on her youtube channel:
I hope this was as helpful for you as it was for me! Let us know in the comments if there are any craft books you love!