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What Books on #Writing have you read? #Writetip

By 02/04/2009July 31st, 2016books, reading, writing ideas

A List of Books on Writing : This is a very common ask at panels and workshops, and today, that’s what we’re going to talk about.

Over at Nathan Bransford’s blog, there’s a post that has generated a lot of comments recommending books on writing. I do possess a few of those mentioned, and although I don’t think books on writing fiction are the ultimate answer to a writer’s needs (indeed, what is?), I’m convinced they’re a valuable resource.

While looking at the comments, I itched for a formatted list of the titles and authors, and then I thought, why not compile one? I can use it, and others can use it when searching for books on writing.

Books on writing

Not all are “how to” books–some are author memoirs, others are biographies, and some deal with screenplay– not all books would suit every writer. But this is a handy list, which could be a good resource for people trying to search for a book on writing.

I apologize for the shoddy formatting, and also if I missed out a few books or repeated some from Nathan Bransford’s blog comments. Please point out any errors, and I’ll correct them. Also, I’m afraid the books are not categorized according to any particular theme right now, but I think I will take that on eventually.

I’ll also link the books to the online bookstores/reviews etc. as time goes on, but for the moment here is the List of Books on Writing:

  1. How to write science Fiction and Fantasy Orson Scott Card
  2. Eats Shoots and Leaves Lynn Truss
  3. Bird by bird Anne Lamott
  4. On Writing Stephen King
  5. Character and Viewpoint Orson Scott Card
  6. If you want to write Brenda Ueland
  7. The Elements of Style Strunk and White
  8. The Art of Fiction John Gardner
  9. The Writer’s Art James Kilpatrick
  10. Story Robert McKee
  11. Emotional Structure Peter Dunne
  12. 45 Master Characters Victoria Schmidt
  13. Goal, motivation and conflict Debra Dixon
  14. The Right to Write Julia Cameron
  15. Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel Jane Smiley
  16. Writing In General & the Short Story In Particular L Rust Hills
  17. The Power of Point of View A. Rasley
  18. How Fiction Works James Wood
  19. Between the Lines Jessica Page Morrell
  20. Words Overflown Stars Vermont College MFA
  21. The First Five Pages Noah Lukeman
  22. Self Editing For Fiction Writers Renni Browne Dave King
  23. Ron Carlson Writes a Story Ron Carlson
  24. Save the Cat Blake Snyder
  25. The Plot Thickens Noah Lukeman
  26. Creativity Rules John Vorhaus
  27. Writing Down the Bones Natalie Goldberg
  28. Rewrite Right! Jan Venolia
  29. Plot and Structure & Revision And Self-Editing James Scott Bell
  30. Dynamic Characters Nancy Kress
  31. Steering the Craft Ursula K LeGuin
  32. Writing the Breakout Novel Donald Maass
  33. The Art of Fiction Ayn Rand
  34. The Artist’s Way Julia Cameron
  35. 10 Rules of Good Writing Elmore Leonard
  36. Make Your Words Work Gary Provost
  37. The Well-fed Writer Peter Bowerman
  38. Plot Ansen Dibell
  39. Writing the Novel From Plot to Print Lawrence Block
  40. Stein On Writing Sol Stein
  41. The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers Christopher Vogler
  42. Write away Elizabeth George
  43. The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice for Writers Betsy Lerner
  44. The Complete Guide to Writing Science Fiction Vol1 Dave Law & Darin Park
  45. Writing Mysteries Sue Grafton
  46. The Anatomy of Story John Truby
  47. Becoming a Writer Dorothea Brande
  48. A Writer’s Space Eric Maisel
  49. Mystery and Manners Flannery OConnor
  50. The Mind of the Maker Dorothy Sayers
  51. Walking on Water Madeleine L’engle
  52. Escaping into the open Elizabeth Berg
  53. The Spooky Art Norman Mailer
  54. The Writer’s Chapbook George Plimpton
  55. Writing the Genre Novel James Joyce
  56. On Writing Well William Zinssner
  57. What It Is Lynda Barry
  58. Screenplay Syd Field
  59. Revising Fiction David Madden
  60. The Artful Edit Susan Bell
  61. Sometimes the Magic Works Terry Brooks
  62. From Where We Dream Robert Olen Butler
  63. Story Within Guidebook Alicia Rasley
  64. Immediate Fiction Jerry Cleaver
  65. Scene and Structure Jack Bickham
  66. Settings Jack Bickham
  67. The Writing Life Annie Dillard
  68. No Plot? No Problem! Chris Baty
  69. Write Great Fiction – Dialogue Gloria Kempton
  70. The Forest for the Trees Betsy Lerner
  71. For writers only Sophie Burnham
  72. Your First Novel A.Rittenberg & Laura Whitcomb
  73. Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom Leonard Marcus
  74. The Creative Habit Twyla Tharp
  75. Southern Daughter Darden Asbury Pyron
  76. Zen in the Art of Writing Ray Bradbury
  77. A Writer’s Coach Jack Hart
  78. Manuscript Makeover Elizabeth Lyons
  79. A Writer’s Guide to Fiction Elizabeth Lyons
  80. How to write a damn good novel James N Freys
  81. Reading Like a Writer Francine Proses
  82. What If? Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter
  83. How not to write a novel Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman
  84. The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes Jack Bickham
  85. The insider’s guide to getting an agent Lori Perkins
  86. Backwards and Forwards David Ball
  87. First Draft to Finished Novel Karen S Wiesner
  88. Creating Short Fiction Damon Knight
  89. The Art of Dramatic Writing Lajos Egri
  90. Make a Scene Jordan E Rosenfeld
  91. Don’t Murder Your Mystery Chris Roerden
  92. In Writing A Novel John Braine
  93. Finding Your Voice Les Edgerton
  94. Hooked Les Edgerton
  95. How to Write Realistic Dialogue Jean Saunders
  96. The Craft of Writing Romance Jean Saunders
  97. Writing the Blockbuster Novel Albert Zuckerman
  98. Twenty Master Plots Ronald B Tobais
  99. The Fiction Writers’ Handbook Nancy Smith
  100. Conflict, Action & Suspense William Noble
  101. Beginnings, Middles & Ends Nancy Kress
  102. How to Write for Children Tessa Krailing
  103. How to Write Stories for Magazines Donna Baker
  104. Creating Characters Dwight V Swain
  105. How to Get Published and make a lot of Money Susan Page
  106. Writing to Sell Scott Meredith
  107. How to Write & Sell True Crime Gary Provost
  108. Cause of Death: a writer’s guide Keith D Wilson MD
  109. Techniques of the Selling Writer Dwight V Swain
  110. The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop Stephen Koch
  111. Thinking like your editor Alfred Fortunato and Susan Rabiner
  112. The Lie that tells a Truth John Dufresne
  113. Fiction Writer’s Workshop Josip Novakovich
  114. Write is a Verb Bill O’ Hanlon
  115. Writing Tools Roy Peter Clark
  116. Word Painting Rebecca McClanahan
  117. Telling Lies For Fun and Profit Lawrence Block
  118. Spider, Spin Me a Web Lawrence Block
  119. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Science Fiction Cory Doctorow & Karl Schroeder
  120. Break Writer’s Block Now! Jerrold Mundis
  121. The Writer’s Book of Hope Ralph Keyes
  122. The Courage to Write Ralph Keyes
  123. Marie Arana. The Writing Life: Writers On How They Think and Work
  124. Blockbuster Plots Martha Alderson
  125. The Successful Novelist David Morrell
  126. Some Writers Deserve to Starve Elaura Niles
  127. The Describer’s Dictionary David Grambs
  128. Nail your Novel Roz Morris

If you have any other favorite books on writing that are not on this list, please drop a line in the comment, and I will add it, with credit to you. Finally, if you’ve read some of the books on writing in this list, feel free to comment on whether you found them useful or not, and why.

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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Anonymous says:

    Great list.. Becoming a Writer is a great book.

    (it is also listed as #47 and #123

  • Matt says:

    Great list, there are so many of these that I haven’t heard of, let alone read. Thanks for posting this!

  • sallyhanan says:

    This list must have taken you ages! Kudos to you.

  • What an awesome list! I am bookmarking this for sure!

  • Damyanti says:

    Thank you all! It would be great if the time I spent compiling this list leads to a book that would help you in your writing.

    Tara Maya, I’ll add the book right away 🙂

    Litgirl01, thankyou! I will be mailing you soon.

    Debra, Courtney and Vancouver Dame, thanks for visiting, welcome to my blog, and hope you visit again!

  • Wow, what a list! This must have taken some effort. Thanks so much!

  • Tara Maya says:

    One of my faves not on your list: The Describer’s Dictionary.

    This unique book has specialized words on one side, and beautiful quotes from actual novels on the other. The focus is on description of people, places, and things, with chapters like, “Size, Position, Relation, and Proportion”, “Buildings and Dwellings”, “Hair, Coiffures, Mustaches, and Beards”.

    Lovely book. I read it just to get in a mood for writing.

  • Litgirl01 says:

    I have a blog award for you to post on your blog…because I love your blog and I read it whenever you post! 🙂 Please email me at [email protected]. I will send you the little pic.

  • Courtney says:

    Hmm I am guessing I can try amazon

  • Litgirl01 says:

    Thank you!!! I will link this post on my blog. 🙂 Eats, Shoots and Leaves is one of my alltime fave books. I had to read it years ago in an editing class. It’s a fun read! 🙂

  • Great idea, compiling the list of books from Nathan’s blog. It’s a lot easier than having to slog through 200+ comments. Thanks for the effort.