Recommended Reads for Writers

I'm always in the middle of at least one craft book, but these are the ones I continually revisit!

The Writer's Portable Mentor

By Priscilla Long

If you want to take your writing to the next level, this book is for you. Primarily written for short fiction, this helpful guide is easily applicable to novel-writing as well. Long covers everything related to the art and craft of line-by-line writing: word choice, fragments, sentences, paragraphs, etc. This book will naturally appeal to literary writers, but I highly recommend it to any writer who wants to use their language more fully, functionally, and beautifully. 

The Mindful Writer

By Dinty W. Moore

Every writer needs this book. We all feel lonely, uninspired, and discouraged sometimes—it's just a part of this crazy profession. The Mindful Writer is for those low moments. This little book is filled with the wisdom of many writers, plus Moore's practical and inspiring commentary. I revisit it when I'm looking for a nugget of wisdom, mindfulness, and joy. When you feel overwhelmed, imperfect, or bogged down in details, pick up this book and remind yourself that you write because you love to write—which is the most important thing to remember, anyway. 

Note: You can get this book used at a low cost, but I believe Moore is coming out with a new version soon. 

Deepening Fiction

By Sarah Stone and Ron Nyren

If you're thinking about getting an MFA in Creative Writing, I highly recommend you explore this book. I read it for one of my "craft of fiction" courses and was blown away. You'll be surprised by this book's depth in describing the hidden nuances of craft elements you've already studied. Prepare to learn techniques you didn't know existed—this book captures and describes new ideas in straightforward, useful terms, empowering and encouraging experienced writers to take new leaps within their work. 

Anything by Donald Maass

If you haven't read anything by Donald Maass yet, go get a copy right now. I'm partial to The Fire in Fiction and his new book, The Emotional Craft of Fiction. Maass has a wealth of experience and seems to have read every book under the sun. If you want to know what goes into writing a bestseller, Maass' craft books are for you. My favorite part? He includes examples from books of all genres, so you can see his recommended techniques in action.

For a similar style, also check out Steven James' Story Trumps Structure. James will push you to think differently about story and help you refine your process. 


Tell Don't Show

By Nicole J Persun, Terry Persun, and Susan Wingate

Yes, I co-authored a craft book! Adapted from our popular class, this book covers common rules of fiction (tell don't show, don't use adverbs, start with action), the real intention behind the rules, and how to break each rule successfully.