Writing Craft Resources

The following are some excellent books on different aspects of the craft of writing.

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On Writing, by Stephen King

Part memoir, part hands-on instruction manual, King manages to cram a wealth of succinct writing lessons and life lessons alike into this wholly enjoyable volume. On Writing lives up to its ample praise.

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Manuscript Makeover, by Elizabeth Lyon

This is the single best resource I encountered when I was getting started in novel writing. I can't recommend it highly enough. I got more specific and helpful writing advice from this one book than probably any other single source ever.

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The Writer's Journey, by Christopher Vogler

This is a must-have classic for any writer's shelf. Vogler explains the “Hero's Journey” structure in terms writers can directly apply to their novels and screenplays. Joseph Campbell laid the intellectual foundation of figuring out what the Hero's Journey is. Christopher Vogler did the heavy-lifting of distilling Campbell's work into practical guidelines writers can actually use.

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Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maass

You can't build a winning book on a weak premise. Here, Donald Maass shares his experience with advice on how writers can build the initial idea of a story into a robust premise that can support a great novel.

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Beginnings, Middles, & ends, by Nancy Kress

Beginnings, middles, and ends of novels each have distinct requirements. In this book, Nancy Kress shows you the pitfalls to avoid and how to make the most of each part of your novel.

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Line by Line, by Claire Kehrwald Cook

Any writer who has ever had someone say their writing was “rough around the edges” or who has been told it needed to “flow better” will do well to take a look at this book of self-editing techniques.

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Make a Scene, by Jordan Rosenfeld

A lot of clients have trouble writing scenes that make their action clear, that reveal the emotions of the characters, and that advance the story in meaningful ways. Scene-craft is an enormous subject, one I can't fully address in the context of the reports I send back to such clients. Consequently, I end up recommending this book a lot. It's probably the number-one writing craft book I refer people to.