There are many great writing resources on the web, but the best resources I’ve found are the ones on my own bookshelf. Writing reference books I’ve collected over the years have taught me how to write a novel, how to build characters, improve scenes, write dialogue – you name it – most everything that I’ve learned about writing has come from the treasures on my bookshelf.
Of course, there are several writing books on that shelf that I could’ve used as kindle for my fall campfires, but many of the books are like gold to me. I refer to the books when I’m writing an article about writing as well as when I’m writing my own fiction. I’ve taken the best of each book, combined some of their ideas, and come up with techniques that have helped me enormously. Many tips that I offer my followers were mined from these books.
Not so surprising is that many of these books are “Writer’s Digest” books. For many years, I subscribed to Writer’s Digest and loved their selection of books, gobbling up everything from books for mystery writers like Cause of Death – a Writer’s Guide to Death, Murder and Forensic Medicine by Keith D. Wilson, M.D. to the many on the basic elements of fiction writing. I want to share some of these treasures with you. Perhaps you will find some that help you improve your craft and get that novel written!
Great Novel Writing Resources – Writer’s Digest Books
The books listed here are great books to help you understand the novel writing process and develop the best techniques in all the major elements of fiction: Plot, Character, Dialogue, Setting, Description, and beyond. The good news is that these books have been around for a while and you’d be able to pick up used copies at great prices.
- Practical Tips for Writing Popular Fiction by Robyn Carr–Very useful tips that chart the process of writing the popular genre novel – mystery, science fiction, romance, fantasy, a techno-thriller, etc.
- The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing by Evan Marshall (Literary Agent and Author)–A 16-step program guaranteed to take you from idea to completed manuscript.
- 20 Master Plots (and How to Build Them) by Ronald B. Tobias–How to develop a plot that integrates all elements of a story. Discusses and analyzes 20 different plots.
- Plot by Ansen Dibell–How to build short stories and novels that don’t sag, fizzle, or trail off in scraps of frustrated revision – and how to rescue stories that do.
- Description by Monica Wood–How to engage readers and keep stories moving by creating vivid, believable depictions of people, places, events, and actions.
- Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card–How to make characters show who they are by the things they do and say, develop characters readers will love or love to hate, develop major characters, and choose the most effective viewpoint(s) to tell the story.
- Writing Dialogue by Tom Chiarella–How to create memorable voices and fictional conversations that crackle with wit, tension, and nuance.
- Building Believable Characters by Marc McCutcheon–How to create characters who think, hope, love, cry, cause or feel pain, save the day – and seize readers by the emotions.
- Creating Character Emotions by Ann Hood–How to write compelling fresh approaches – creative images, words, and gestures – that express your character’s true feelings and evoke emotion in your novel.
- Beginnings, Middles & Ends by Nancy Kress–How to get your stories off to a roaring start, keep them tight and crisp throughout, and end them with a wallop.
- Conflict, Action & Suspense by William Noble–How to set the state with techniques and devices that enhance the drama, introduce suspense from the very beginning of your novel, build suspense throughout, and bring that conflict, action, and suspense to a gripping conclusion.
- Revision by David Michael Kaplan–How to rewrite your novel to tighter plots, deeper characters, stronger dialogue, more evocative description – and ultimately better, more fully realized fiction.
Writing Resources for Grammar and Other Great Things
Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott –A wonderful book for both the aspiring writer and the seasoned writer who has not yet read it, (although most seasoned writers have read this book long ago).
A Dash of Style by Noah Lukeman (Literary Agent and Author)–Explains the benefits that reaped from mastering punctuation: the art of style, sentence length, meaning and word economy. (Also explains great uses for the dash and the semi-colon that writers may not have thought about.)
Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss–The zero tolerance approach to punctuation. An often humorous rendition of the proper way to write.
The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White–Provides advice on how to make “every word tell”. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.
Share Writing Resources that Strike a Chord with You
A good writer is always seeking to improve their craft and appreciates tips on good writing resources. Do you have a list of writing resources that have made an impact on your writing? If so, please share those resources with us! I know there are many, many more writing resources than what I’ve listed here, and certain books strike a chord with us that may not do so in others. Still, we can take from the books what makes sense to us and discard the rest.
Additionally, if you’ve read any of the books listed here or use them as a reference, I’d love to hear your impression of them.
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