I’ve read around two hundred books on writing so far and none of them was the same. My first idea for this post was to show you a list, a long one, with one-line reviews of my favorite books on writing. Then I would finish the post with a comment, something I believe in.
Would I add something to your life with this? Maybe. But not entirely, you know. And that’s one of the keys here. So I’ll start with the thing I believe in…
Writing is about using words to make a difference in the life of your reader.
Sometimes we forget that when we’re writing content every day. Sometimes we forget that when we’re writing the end of a novel, or the whole thing. Sometimes we just don’t know how to do what we want to do.
I mean, we always know how to write but sometimes we don’t know how to write to make a difference in the life of our readers. That’s why I want to keep reading these books on writing until I read every one of them.
So, I’m gonna break this post into two parts. The first part is the list I wanted to show you but with only seven of my favorite books on writing. The second part is about what to look for when you read any book on writing.
- Writing Tools, by Roy Peter Clark
- Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg
- Story Genius, by Lisa Cron
- Fire Up Your Writing Brain, by Susan Reynolds
- Help! For Writers, by Roy Peter Clark
- Anatomy of Story, by John Trudy
- Several Short Sentences About Writing, by Verlyn Klinkenborg
Those books are amazing. I read them from time to time and each of them made a difference in my writing life. They changed my perspective about writing, and they helped me hone my skills and craft.
Now, here’s the heart of this post.
five lessons to look for in books on writing
- Storytelling. What is a story? What is a plot? How do you begin? What’s in the middle? How do you finish? Why do you tell a story? What do you want to feel with your writing? What do you want to convey with it? What do you want your reader to feel or do about it? What are the tools to write a good story? How to write it effectively?
- Rules and how to break them. Writing like any form of art has rules. And you have to know them to choose if you want to follow them or break them. Genres call a specific plot, plots have specific points, story structures have elements you should use. Or not. Look for them. Learn them.
- Characters. Who are they? How can you make them real? How can you give them life? How can you develop them? How do they grow? Or how do they die? How can you make them talk the way they should and how can you make them believable and remarkable?
- How to write. I know, that’s obvious, but those books can give you a shortcut for you to learn about word choice, story structure, how to write to provoke thoughts, to elicit feelings, to build a rhythm, to incite a mood…
- Inspiration and motivation. Most of those books address a very important part of being a writer. When it’s too much or when we’re overwhelmed by life, we tend to believe we’re not real writers or that we lost our talent, or that we’re blocked. Look for tips and personal stories that can help you cope with that, or fight or avoid that, something that can inspire you and motivate you.
Plans and routines. Another important thing you can learn from those books has less to do about your reader and more to do with you. You can learn how to organize yourself. Outline your book, create a routine, build discipline, set goals and deadlines, and write the damn book once and for all. Look for that too.
Now, for the comments…
What are your favorite books on writing? And what was the most important lesson you learned from them?