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Best books on writing fiction

Discussion in 'Writing Resources' started by Brian G Turner, Jul 30, 2015.

  1. Brian G Turner

    Brian G Turner Scribe

    In a couple of threads I've mentioned one or two books on the technicalities of writing that I've personally found very helpful.

    I thought I'd start a list of potentially useful books on writing, and see if anyone else wants to add to them. :)

    Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer - a good general comprehensive introduction to writing, covering issues from basic to advanced.

    Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler - details the three act structure, not least in reference to the Hero's Journey. Possibly of most use to fantasy writers.

    Save the Cat by Blake Snyder - although it talks about principles of screenwriting, it's focus on use of conflict and development of character story arcs is invaluable for character creation in any media format - especially the novel.

    The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes by Jack M Bickham - a good general guide to major issues that might be undermining your manuscript. This covers so many basis issues that many aspiring writers fall into without realising.
    Ben likes this.
  2. On Writing by Stephen King. It's half memoir, half writing guide, and it's more geared toward writing a King-esque novel, but I've found it very useful in my own writing.
    vivienne and kennyc like this.
  3. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    The tome of fiction writing that will change your life:Anatomy of Story. Thanks to this book, my storytelling has vastly improved and I have more direction in my manuscripts.
    kennyc and Ben like this.
  4. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    The First Five Pages, by Noah Lukeman.

    Also, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by I can't recall who.
    Ben likes this.
  5. angelleaping

    angelleaping Dreamer

    Another book by Robin Hemley "Fact Into Fiction" How to turn your ordinary life into fiction.
  6. goonsackwriting

    goonsackwriting Acolyte

    These books look interesting. I may have to give one a go.
  7. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

    The best book on how to write fiction I have ever read was "Slave Girl of Gor". I think I got 50 pages in, threw it away and thought I can do better than that.
    Some people must like it but I thought it terrible on so many levels.
    Every day in every way I try to be better and better...
    Russ likes this.
  8. Ben

    Ben Troubadour

    I found "Conflict and Suspense" by Jams Scott Bell a useful read on the basics of creating tension and drive in your narrative, and overall writing and plotting. I believe he mostly known as a thriller/suspense writer, but there are definitely useful takeaways for every genre. He also has a book about writing and plot in general, but reviews said it overlaps a lot with this one so I haven't purchased it.
    Thanks for your recs, guys and gals.
  9. Ben

    Ben Troubadour

    I read an article by a literary agent recently recommending the Lukeman book for tips on making sure your submissions give a good first impression, thought that's a pretty good endorsement.
  10. Jim Aikin

    Jim Aikin Scribe

    Here's my list (which I posted not long ago on my blog):

    Scott Meredith, Writing to Sell (out of print). Meredith is a terrible Philistine. He doesn’t give a crap about art. But if you want to sell books, this is a great resource.

    Jean Z. Owen, Professional Fiction Writing (out of print). A fine all-around introduction to basic techniques.

    Hallie & Whit Burnett, Fiction Writer’s Handbook.

    Noah Lukeman, The First Five Pages.

    Orson Scott Card, Characters & Viewpoint.

    Ansen Dibell, Plot.

    John Gardner, The Art of Fiction.

    And of course, less about technique than about whatever he feels like saying about writing, Telling Lies for Fun & Profit by Lawrence Block.
  11. kennyc

    kennyc Inkling

    There are three books at the top of my literally hundreds of how to write books that I've read and collected over the past 30 years

    The Making of a Story by Alice LaPlante
    Reading like a Writer by Francine Prose
    and Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway (there are many editions of this book earlier ones are just as good and available used)
  12. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

  13. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    I'll second Card's Characters and Viewpoint

    and add

    Elements of Fiction: Scene and Structure
    Save the Cat Book on Screen Writing
    My Story Can Beat Up Your Story
  14. LizLinz

    LizLinz Acolyte

    I actually have the Wonderbook, but haven't sat down to take a good hard look at it. Thanks for this! I'll check the others out too.
  15. Leo deSouza

    Leo deSouza Acolyte

    Thanks for this.
  16. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Sage

    Oh, I love lists of books. I've read maybe seventy or eighty books on writing and storytelling (plus another hundred or so on marketing).

    Here are some of my favourites:

    Into the Woods by John Yorke.
    Story by Robert McKee.
    Story Engineering by Larry Brooks.
    The Anatomy of Story by John Truby.
    A Story is a Promise & The Spirit of Storytelling by Bill Johnson.
    How Not to Write a Novel by Mittelmark and Newman.
    The Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner.

    Okay, that will do for now.

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