A List: Authors’ Most Helpful “How To” Books About Writing

Yesterday Christine Royse Niles from my home state of Indiana prompted the writer’s Facebook Group, My 500 Words, members to write lists.  I couldn’t think of anything interesting to list until I read several posts in a different writers’ group.

Facebook Picture

Pamela R. Winnick, award-winning author, asked a provocative question of a LinkedIn writer’s group, The Craft of Writing Fiction (no promotions).

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The question is, “Have you been helped by any writing “how-to” books? If so, which?”

That would be a nice list for my blog resource page, I thought.

Here is the list I generated from author-members’ responses.  If you write, I think it will be very helpful especially with links.

Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller John Truby
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life Anne Lamott
Building Better Plots Robert Kernan
Elements of Fiction Writing Characters and Viewpoint: Proven Advice and Timeless Techniques for Creating Compelling Characters by an Award Winning Author Orson Scott Card
Elements of Fiction Writing: Conflict and Suspense James Scott Bell
Fiction Writer’s Handbook Hallie and Whit Burnett
How Not to Write a Novel: Confessions of a Midlist Author David Armstrong
How to Write Dazzling Dialogue: The Fastest Way to Improve Any Manuscript James Scott Bell
How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy Orson Scott Card
How to Writer Killer Fiction: The Funhouse of Mystery and the Rollercoaster of Suspense Carolyn Wheat
If You Want to Write Brenda Ueland
Make Your Words Work: Proven Techniques for Effective Writing-For Fiction and Non-Fiction Gary Provost
On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Non-Fiction William Zinsser
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft Stephen King
Playwriting Seminars 2.0: A Handbook on the Art and Craft of Dramatic Writing with an Introduction to Screenwriting Richard Toscan
Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master Martha Alderson
Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them (P.S.) Francine Prose
Revision and Self-Editing for Publication: Techniques for Transforming Your First Draft into a Novel That Sells James Scott Bell
Self Editing for Fiction Writers How to Edit Yourself Into Print Brown and King
Story: Style, Structure, Substance and the Principles of Screenwriting Robert McKee
Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story K. M. Weiland
The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers John Gardner
The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear Ralph Keyes
The Elements of Style Strunk and White
The First Five Pages: The Writer’s Guide for Staying Out of the Rejection Pile Noah Lukeman
The Midnight Disease, The Drive to Write, Writer’s Block and the Creative Brain Alice Weaver Flaherty
The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers Christopher Vogler
Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence  Lisa Cron
Write Great Fiction: Characters, Emotion and Viewpoint Nancy Kress
Writing Down the Bones, Freeing the Writer Within Natalie Goldburg
Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook Donald Maass
Your First Novel: An Author and Agent Team Share the Keys to Achieving Your Dream AnnWhittenbergLaura Whitcomb

It’s after 3:00 a.m.  At this hour I’m not holding myself responsible for any typos or errors in writing, spelling or judgement.  If you find a problem, read around it, and THEN tell me about it in a glowing comment.  🙂

P.S. I worked too hard to wait until morning – real morning to publish this.  I can’t wait!  🙂

Author: Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

14 thoughts on “A List: Authors’ Most Helpful “How To” Books About Writing”

    1. Thank you Paula. It’s a great list, but I can’t take too much credit for it other than the time it took to read the thread of conversation, weed out the titles, and hyperlink them. 🙂 Hope your New Year is starting well. 🙂


  1. 3.00a.m.! Oh dear. I hope you’ve since had an early night! 🙂
    But back at the post, I can wholeheartedly recommend both the Natalie Goldberg and Stephen King books you mention. And Anne Lamott is someone I want to read. Useful, informative list. Well done sleep-deprived woman.


    1. Thanks Anne. I just started Anne Lamott’s book last night. It’s great so far – very encouraging. I love to hear that great authors failed when they first tried to write. Even better, I love to hear that they failed quite a few times. Best of all I love to hear that they didn’t get rave reviews the first time out when they finally did get published. OK, now there is real hope for me! 🙂 I keep plugging away. It’s 3:18 today. The good news is that I have free internet service from 12:00 a.m. to 5:0 a.m. Otherwise we use too much! 🙂 thanks for the comment, Anne. You’re WRITE on. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This list is accompanying me to the library this week. Although I’ve read a fair amount and have secured permanent spots for many of them on my own bookshelves, there are so true gems you’ve listed that I can’t wait to get my eyes on.
    Many thanks for the exhaustive efforts. Much appreciated!


    1. You are welcome. I have ordered several of them now. I started Anne Lamont’s book last night. 🙂 thanks for following my blog. I’ll be by yours as well. I love your pic! 🙂


    1. I do have it. My husband’s getting into it a bit now, too. So it’s my new project. (for now) I’m also going to be helping get the new Woodlake museum off the ground. It’s going to be beautiful. I have some picture processing to do. 🙂 How’s the art coming. Did you finish your lighthouse?

      Liked by 1 person

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