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What "writing" books do you have in your personal library?

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I was wondering, what books, if any, do you have on the craft of writing?  Which ones would you recommend?  :books:

#1 - January 01, 2007, 05:32 PM

Write Away, by Elizabeth George
Writing The Breakout Novel, by Donald Maass
Bird By Bird, by Anne Lamont

The first two have helped me more than the third, even though I still like it very much, but I haven't gotten through all three of them end to end. I kind of read them in parts.
#2 - January 01, 2007, 05:36 PM
ESCAPING THE TIGER, Bank Street's "Best Books of the Year"


I just finished "Take Joy" by Jane Yolen, and I found it very inspiring. 
I love to write poetry, so I also love Ralph Fletcher's books.  They are written for kids, but I find that they get my creative juices flowing.  My favorite is "Poetry Matters."  Another book that I think is essential for poets is Myra Cohn Livingston's "Poem-Making."  I really studied it this past summer, and I return to it again and again. :reading2:
#3 - January 01, 2007, 05:50 PM

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The Writer's Journey
From Where You Dream
The Fiction Editor
Crafting Stories for Children
Bird by Bird
On Writing

#4 - January 01, 2007, 05:54 PM

I love On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
I bought Steering The Craft by Ursula K. Le Guin but still have not read it.
#5 - January 01, 2007, 05:57 PM


Mary, I just realized that you and I worked together in Cambridge, Mass!  I just saw your message with the web address, and the last time I saw you, we were at the New England regional conference.  I am pretty new to this board, but I love it!   I hope all is well with you, your daughter, and your writing!  :) (Mary Cronin)
#6 - January 01, 2007, 06:11 PM

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I have about a million of them, but the one I find myself refering to all the time is "Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook" by Donald Maass.  It's been a huge help (I write YA).  I  found his "Writing the Breakout Novel" to be good too, but the workbook is great, if you do the exercises. 

#7 - January 01, 2007, 06:19 PM

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My favorite is Stephen King's ON WRITING, but there's a bunch more listed here, too.  Have fun! :)
#8 - January 01, 2007, 07:30 PM
BLACKOUT -- available now
DESERTED -- available now
SISTERS DON'T TELL -- available now


I have Writing for Children and Teenagers by Lee Wyndham, Gotham's Writing Fiction, and Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace, by Joseph Williams.

All of these I bought for creative writing classes, and I've enjoyed them. The book by Wyndham is especially excellent for getting your bearings; it's got a lot of basic information but it's also fairly in depth. I also really like the Gotham's Guide; it's like a course in Writing Fiction at your own pace. It's littered with exercises to help you strengthen your writing.
#9 - January 01, 2007, 07:52 PM


This is some great stuff.  Thanks!  :dancing:
#10 - January 01, 2007, 08:18 PM


I have tons!  This past semester, I took a class where all I did was read and discuss writing books.  The best, by far?  WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL by Donald Maass.  I found that other are aimed at people who are just starting out and looking for inspiration.  My second fave was definitely THE WRITING LIFE by Annie Dillard.  Others I have (that I can remember off the top of my head) are ZEN AND THE ART OF WRITING, IF YOU WANT TO WRITE, many WRITERS MARKET, and 1001 WAYS TO MARKET YOUR BOOK.  Needless to say, it was a great class.
#11 - January 01, 2007, 08:19 PM


For inspiration: I love Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg and Take Joy by Jane Yolen.

For inspiration AND craft: On Writing, by Stephen King

For craft (children's writing): Picture Writing by Anastasia Suen

For craft (poetry):  The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry, A Kick in the Head by Paul Janeczko (not that it's intended as a primer, but there it is), The Poetry Dictionary by John Drury
#12 - January 02, 2007, 05:57 AM

I've gotten a lot of use out of SELF EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS.  I've found it has really specific information.
#13 - January 02, 2007, 06:12 AM


Two of my favs are Take Joy and On Writing. 

Advice taken from these two books:  Put your butt in the chair and then murder your darlings.  In other words, write the damn book and then edit like a coldblooded fiend.   :werd
#14 - January 02, 2007, 07:42 AM


I've got tons of writing books but the three that have given me the most Ah-ha moments were:
Stein on Writing - Sol Stein
GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict - Deb Dixon (it's romance-centric but the 'method' isn't genre specific)
Plot and Structure - James Scott Bell
#15 - January 02, 2007, 08:12 AM

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Oh, Sol Stein's books are good.  I forgot about those.  I should reread them.   I think Self editing for fiction writers is good to review before you start editing.  Great book.

I know tons of people who love Goal, Motivation and Conflict, but that doesn't do much for me. 

#16 - January 02, 2007, 08:15 AM


I have a lot of books collected over many years. Some of them are pretty old. Some I haven't read in looong time, like, Aspects of the Novel, by E. M. Forester.

A book my mom gave me that REALLY helped me get started and stay motivated is The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron.

And I also greatly enjoyed Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Brandbury, one of my favorite authors.

For craft, Word Magic by Cindy Rogers has lots of exercises which can be helpful to jump start a sluggish brain.
#17 - January 02, 2007, 08:19 AM

Eats, Shoots & Leaves
2007 Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market
The Idiot's Guide to Writing for Young Adults
Strunk and White's Elements of Style
Punctuation Plain and Simple
The Writer's Digest Guide to Manuscript Formats
The Artist's Way
Idea Catcher
2006 Writer's Market
Writer's and Illustrator's Guide to Children's Book Publishers and Agents
The Writer's Complete Crime Reference Book

#18 - January 02, 2007, 08:32 AM
Stephanie J. Blake
MY ROTTEN FRIEND (Albert Whitman, September 1, 2015)
THE MARBLE QUEEN (Two Lions, December 1, 2012)

Hi Mary!

Great to see you on the board! Hope you and your family are doing well.  :-)

#19 - January 02, 2007, 09:18 AM

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I have quite a collection (mostly reference books like CWIM) but here are some favorites:

ART & FEAR, David Bayles & Ted Orland - This is a classic, must-read. I reach for it when I need truth, inspiration AND someone to "kick my butt." It's written in a very matter-of-fact manner so don't let the "kick butt" part put you off. Hearing the truth does that to me. Although it's a short book, I've gotten a lot of mileage out of it.

ON WRITING, Stephen King - Inspiring! I enjoyed his personal story. Provides great info about craft and the "writer's toolbox." He's freaking funny too :-).

BIRD BY BIRD, Anne Lamott - Great perspective. She's the reason I started letting go and doing more "sloppy" first drafts.

LET THE CRAZY CHILD WRITE, Clive Matson - Great suggestions for accessing the "creative unconscious" as he likes to call it.

WRITING WITH PICTURES, Uri Schulevitz - An excellent book for writer/illustrators and illustrators.

POEM-MAKING: Ways To Begin Writing Poetry, Myra Livingston - This was originally geared for kids but Sonya Sones recommends it for adult writers too. I've gotten a lot from it.
#20 - January 02, 2007, 09:30 AM
« Last Edit: January 02, 2007, 09:44 AM by ecm »
author/illustrator of HONU AND MOA (awarded 2019 Aesop Accolade) & poet contributor of THANKU poetry anthology

WRITING DOWN THE BONES By Natalie Goldberg "Freeing the writer within."

ON WRITING By Stephen King - He has some great one-liners in here, but most of the ones I like have swear words, so I won't give examples. ;)

BIRD BY BIRD By Anne Lamott - Worth every penny.

CHILDREN'S WRITERS WORD BOOK By Alijandra Mogilner-"Lists of specific words introduced at each of seven reading levels."

WRITERS, INC-a student handbook/thumbnail reference for grammar, etc.

ELEMENTS OF STYLE By Strunk and White


And this is just for personal inspiration:
OSGOOD'S PRIMER - Copyright 1888. It was my great grandfather's school book of first lessons. ABC's, etc.
THE NEW BUSY FINGERS PRIMER - Copyright 1924. Albert Whitman & Co. It was my dad's and comes complete with his doodles on every page. The opening lines are:
"Writing is putting on paper what your mind thinks.
Drawing is putting on paper what your eye sees." 
Simple. Profound.
Love it.

#21 - January 02, 2007, 10:32 AM
« Last Edit: January 02, 2007, 12:04 PM by Nan »

Strunk and White's Elements of Style is my only constant. Many others come and go. Many listed below. One I enjoyed for marketing reasons lately was Some Writers Deserve to Starve be Elaura Niles.
#22 - January 02, 2007, 10:49 AM
Bazooka Joe says, I have the ability to become outstanding in literature.

I have BIRD BY BIRD and love it. I got ON WRITING from the library and am liking the second half, although I had to skim most of the first part, because I got bored.  My creative writing teacher gives us excerpts from Annie Dillard's book, too.

I also read WRITING UP A STORM WITH THE POLK STREET KIDS when I was in about second grade and I still have it.  I just got 13 WAYS OF LOOKING AT THE NOVEL and DIARIES AND THE CREATIVE LIFE to see how they help. 
#23 - January 02, 2007, 06:03 PM


I have a lot because I used to be in the Writer's Digest Book Club, but the only ones I really refer back to are:

Creating Character Emotions by Ann Hood
Dialogue by Lewis Turco
Plot by Ansen Dibell
The Writer's Market Companion by Joe Feiertag
Writing Dialogue by Tom Chiarella
Writing for Children and Teenagers by Lee Wyndham
#24 - January 03, 2007, 08:32 AM

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As per Jaina's suggestion, I recently got Orson Scott Card's book CHARACTER AND VIEWPOINT -- it's excellent!  It helps that i read OSC and love his books ;D  I also own BIRD BY BIRD & WRITING DOWN THE BONES...but honestly, I haven't made it through either of them.  There a little more abstract that I'm looking for right now.  but I know I may look to them at a different time and adore them :)
#25 - January 03, 2007, 08:38 AM
Unspun: A Collection of Tattered Fairy Tales:


Hi *

Most of the above.  I also want to include:

The ABC's of Writing for Children, compiled by Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff.  About a hundred authors and illustrators talk about the craft, art, business, and life of writing childen's literature.  Covers about everything.

78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published & 14 Reasons Why It Just Might, by Pat Walsh - the founding editor of MacAdam/Cage.  Knowing and avoiding many common mistakes and bad habits will distinguish you from most writers and help you and your work get taken seriously.  Brutally honest, from an editor's point of view, but helpful.

* Gerri
#26 - January 03, 2007, 01:41 PM


Picture Writing by Anastasia Suen (I've just started this one and love it.)
Writer's First Aid by Kristi Holl
Creating Characters Kids Will Love by Elaine Marie Alphin
Story Sparker, A Creativity Guide for Children's Writers by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones (they are the authors of The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids series)
#27 - January 06, 2007, 12:28 PM

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Most mentioned above - love Writing the Breakout Novel, The First 5 Pages and The Artist's Way (I find that a lot of what I'm writing comes out first in my Morning Pages - I do them pretty faithfully!)   :writing3:

also - Story by Robert McKee & Write from the Heart by Leslea Newman
#28 - January 06, 2007, 01:19 PM
XVI, Puffin/Speak, available now
Truth, Puffin/Speak, January 2012

Sarah Miller

These have all been mentioned already, but I love them, so I'm going to register my vote anyway:

Bird by Bird
On Writing
Steering the Craft

..and, ye old Elements of Style
#29 - January 23, 2007, 02:46 PM

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass is easily the best. Stephen King's On Writing is a close second.  Though it's not actually a how to book, I highly recommend "Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom." If you're interested in the history of children's publishing this book will not disappoint.
#30 - January 29, 2007, 02:59 PM


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