My Top 5 Books On Writing

I am always looking for a good writing book to help me with certain aspects of my writing. I have read my fair share over the years and here is my top 5 list. I highly recommend them. Some are genre-specific as well as basic writing essentials. I know there are more amazing references out there so please share your favorites in the comments. Happy writing!

characters and viewpointCharacters & Viewpoint (Elements of Fiction Writing) by Orson Scott Card

Orson Scott Card presents practical, in-depth instruction on how fiction writers can make the best choices in creating characters and handling viewpoint. The author shows how to put original yet realistic people into fiction.

About the Author: Orson Scott Card is the bestselling author best known for the classic Ender’s Game, Ender’s Shadow and other novels in the Ender universe. Most recently, he was awarded the 2008 Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in Young Adult literature, from the American Library Association. Card has written sixty-one books, assorted plays, comics, and essays and newspaper columns. His work has won multiple awards, including back-to-back wins of the Hugo and the Nebula Awards-the only author to have done so in consecutive years. His titles have also landed on ‘best of’ lists and been adopted by cities, universities and libraries for reading programs. The Ender novels have inspired a Marvel Comics series, a forthcoming video game from Chair Entertainment, and pre-production on a film version. A highly anticipated The Authorized Ender Companion, written by Jake Black, is also forthcoming.Card offers writing workshops from time to time and occasionally teaches writing and literature at universities.Orson Scott Card currently lives with his family in Greensboro, NC.

HT Write Fantasy_cardHow To Write Science Fiction & Fantasy by Orson Scott Card

You’ve always dreamed of writing science fiction and fantasy tales that pull readers into extraordinary new worlds and fantastic conflicts. Best-selling author Orson Scott Card shows you how it’s done, distilling years of writing experience and publishing success into concise, no-nonsense advice. You’ll learn how to:

  • utilize story elements that define the science fiction and fantasy genres
  • build, populate, and dramatize a credible, inviting world your readers will want to explore
  • develop the “rules” of time, space and magic that affect your world and its inhabitants
  • construct a compelling story by developing ideas, characters, and events that keep readers turning pages
  • find the markets for speculative fiction, reach them, and get published
  • submit queries, write cover letters, find an agent, and live the life of a writer

The boundaries of your imagination are infinite. Explore them with Orson Scott Card and create fiction that casts a spell over agents, publishers, and readers from every world.

stephen_king_on_writingOn Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

On Writing is both a textbook for writers and a memoir of Stephen’s life and will, thus, appeal even to those who are not aspiring writers. If you’ve always wondered what led Steve to become a writer and how he came to be the success he is today, this will answer those questions.

About the author: Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. Among his most recent are the Dark Tower novels, Cell, From a Buick 8, Everything’s Eventual, Hearts in Atlantis, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, and Bag of Bones. His acclaimed nonfiction book, On Writing, was also a bestseller. He is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.


Writing 21st Century Fiction by Donald Maass

Whether you’re a commercial storyteller or a literary novelist, whether your goal is to write a best-selling novel or captivate readers with a satisfying, beautifully written story, the key to success is the same: high-impact fiction. Writing 21st Century Fiction will help you write a novel for today’s readers and market, filled with rich characters, compelling plots, and resonant themes. Author and literary agent Donald Maass shows you how to:

  • Create fiction that transcends genre, conjures characters who look and feel more “real” than real people, and shows readers the work around them in new ways.
  • Infuse every page with an electric current of emotional appeal and micro-tension.
  • Harness the power of parallels, symbols, metaphors, and more to illuminate your novel in a lasting way.
  • Develop a personalized method of writing that works for you.

With an arsenal of thought-provoking prompts and questions, plus plenty of examples from best-selling titles, Writing 21st Century Fiction will strip away your preconceived notions about writing in today’s world and give you the essential tools you need to create fiction that will leave both readers and critics in awe.

About the author: Donald Maass heads the Donald Maass Literary Agency in New York City, which represents more than 150 novelists and sells more than 150 novels every year to publishers in America and overseas. He is a past president of the Association of Authors Representatives, Inc., and is the author of several books of interest to fiction writers, including Writing the Breakout NovelThe Fire in Fiction, and The Breakout Novelist (all from Writer’s Digest Books).


The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

One of the biggest problem areas for writers is conveying a character’s emotions to the reader in a unique, compelling way. This book comes to the rescue by highlighting 75 emotions and listing the possible body language cues, thoughts, and visceral responses for each. Using its easy-to-navigate list format, readers can draw inspiration from character cues that range in intensity to match any emotional moment. The Emotion Thesaurus also tackles common emotion-related writing problems and provides methods to overcome them. This writing tool encourages writers to show, not tell emotion and is a creative brainstorming resource for any fiction project.

About the authors: Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi are the creators of the award winning online resource for writers, The Bookshelf Muse. Members of SCBWI, both authors write in the Middle Grade and Young Adult genres.

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4 Responses

  1. lindabanana says:

    Well, I never! Mine are almost exactly the same. I was advised to follow Orson Scott Card at a writers’ group long ago which also had in it Andrea Levy, Jo Shapcott and Dreenagh Darrell and they haven’t done badly at all. Of course, I would read the phone book if Stephen King had written it.

    • R.K. Grow says:

      Linda this is fun! Who else would you have on your list? Card for me is the master of characterization so I love that book. I read King’s book last fall and fell in love. I got it! I am building my own toolbox right now.

  2. jamieayres says:

    Visiting from the IWSG today . . . I’ve read On Writing and I don’t write without having The Emotion Thesaurus open on my Kindle Fire 🙂

    • R.K. Grow says:

      Thanks for stopping by Jamie. I am new to the IWSG group. I look forward to meeting new friends and getting some writing help and advice. The Emotion Thesaurus is amazing. Angela told me they are working on two other books right now and I cannot wait to have them come out. I am about to read On Writing for the third time. This time with a red pen.

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