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My Top Writing Books

Updated: Mar 31

Reading books about writing is so important! Imagine two new surgeons, one who has observed countless perfect procedures and one who has seen two performed. Who do you think will be more successful? Pretend the first one has also read textbooks about how to complete this procedure, while the second one hasn't and is fumbling in the dark. Now, who do you think is going to be the better surgeon?

This same analogy can be applied to authors. We first learned to string words together by listening to others speak. Then we read books and discovered which phrases rolled off our tongues. By this time, you've probably experimented yourself with developing characters, establishing conflict, and sketching out a plot. By reading writing books, authors can refine their craft.

Maybe you have a fast-paced, fascinating plot but little to no description in your novel. Perhaps you have no idea how to write dialogue or take criticism. J.K. Rowling wasn't born knowing exactly how to write a book (well, probably not) and neither were you! When you delve into these books, you improve your writing and gain skills you lack.

There are a few books that I absolutely love! I'm rating them based on their creativity, how fun they are to read, their inspiration factor, and a few other things. I believe that a writing book should be accessible to all ages, something chock full of material, and a book that galvanizes your creative juices.


Spilling Ink

What audience: Spilling Ink is a handbook designed for young writers.

Its playful, funny style keeps youthful storytellers intrigued, but I think that its information can be beneficial to older ages as well.

How it's organized: This book is told in an easy-to-understand chronological order. It begins with a few chapters with an introduction and a bit of inspiration, segues into "crafting your story," teaches lessons on writing processes and criticism, and finally wraps up with writing secrets and bios of the two authors.

Inspiration levels: I think Spilling Ink does an amazing job of providing inspiration! It shows budding novelists how to work what they already know into their writing, gives creative prompts and where to go with them (from a boy with a big head kidnapped to Boris the Bullet Boy being shot out of a rocket), and shows how to turn on your "idea antenna."

Main points:

  • ideas can be found everywhere

  • the way you write dialogue is important

  • a story without suspense is like food without seasonings

  • how to fix your writing "tics"

  • find your writer identity


Writer to Writer

What audience: Again, I'm a teenage writer myself, so many of the books on this list are aimed at a younger audience.

How it's organized: One thing I adore about this book is that it's so full of information! I can read one chapter and get several ideas and new tactics. Gail Carson Levine covers many subjects, but the official sections are titled Being a Writer, Character Building, Character Nitty-Gritty, Hatching the Plot, Aspects of Story, Underpinnings, Poetry Country, and Closing the Circle.

Inspiration levels: With this book in hand, your writing style will greatly improve! Each chapter focuses on a new way to boost your character development or plot and wraps it up with creative ideas to implement them. While this novel focuses mostly on how to put strategies in action, there are clever writing prompts scattered throughout.

Main points:

  • your characters must be dimensional

  • poetry "clasps writers and readers in an embrace of ideas and feelings"

  • your word choice has meaning

  • plots should be nail-biting


So You Wanna Be a Writer?

I was first introduced to this book through my local library and eventually received it for my birthday after checking it out several times (nearly every library visit). I think it's such an important tool for young writers and will help everyone find their voice.

How it's organized: This book is in basic chronological order. It begins with describing author-dom, choosing a genre, how to organize a story, editing your novel, and all of the steps toward being published.

What audience: This is for younger writers to teenagers. I think many children's books can be constructive for older readers, but this is aimed at new storytellers, so elders might find it too much of a breezy read.

Inspiration factor: Just as the title implies, this book will excite those who dream of becoming an author. With interviews from real kid poets and authors, you'll be inspired to get published and follow their step-by-step plan!

Main points:

  • writing is a real career - and you can do it!

  • you should write in the genre that inspires you

  • editing your work is important

  • there's an art to publishing


The Complete Guide to Writing Fiction

What audience: This is technically an adult book but I'm a teenager and have gained invaluable information from it.

How it's organized: Many successful and talented authors collaborated to put together this book. Consequently, each chapter takes on a new writing method, complete with interviews, examples, and vital checklists. You'll find advice on all subjects in this novel!

Inspiration factor: This book focuses on refining the composition craft, rather than providing authors with ideas for stories. However, reading it definitely inspired me to write more! Even just hearing different writing techniques planted the seeds of several story ideas in my mind.




Summary:

  • the way you write is important

  • start with an idea and characters, not a thesis

  • show, don't tell is an important tactic

  • you have no story without character motivation


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