There’s plenty of books about writing out there, but it’s hard to tell which ones are any good. But trust me. If you’re a writer, you’re going to want to read these.
On Writing (Stephen King)
You don’t have to be a fan of King’s novels to enjoy this book. Part autobiography, part writing manual, this combines the art of the craft with the elements that went into forging that particular author. Parts of this book are still with me today; I can’t look at an adverb without wanting to reach for a red pen. Really.
The Creative Writing Coursebook (edited by Julia Bell and Paul Magrs)
The University of East Anglia’s creative writing course is incredibly competitive. For mere mortals, or perhaps those who just don’t want to wear a beret, this is the next best thing. Full of articles written by alumni, there’s a treasure trove of advice here. If you don’t like one article, you’ll probably like the next. Some of them are on the big things like editing. Some of them are on the little things like pockets.
Adventures in the Dream Trade (Neil Gaiman, edited by Tony Lewis and Priscilla Olson)
This one is a little hard to get hold of but is worth it for the reproduction of Gaiman’s blog, written as American Gods went from manuscript to shelf. It’s a fascinating insight into a world of proofs, meetings, proofs, editorial processes, proofs and cover designs. If you can’t find the book, you can read the archived blog on Gaiman’s website.
Elements of Style (William Strunk Jr., E. B. White)
Short and to the point, this book will clarify common grammatical and stylistic mistakes in writing. Is it James’ or James’s? Is there a comma after two in a list of one, two or three items? Very much a reference guide, but worth reading cover to cover at least once.
Characters and Viewpoint (Elements of Fiction Writing) (Orson Scott Card)
Reading this book will encourage you to create your characters in much greater detail and depth. It will also help you properly identify the benefits and disadvantages in the different viewpoints of your characters and help you decide which ones to use and when. Card writes in an easy style with lots of practical examples, making a potentially thick and intimidating book simple to read. Applying the lessons, though, will take practice.
Any you feel I’ve left out?