It’s never too late to become a better writer. And if that’s your goal, you should definitely check out the best books on creative writing.

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Best Books on Creative Writing | The best books on creative writing focus on story structure and living life as a writer.

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Now, before we get too far into this post, I feel I need to say something. The best books on creative writing can’t hold a candle to practice. You can get so much more educationally speaking out of writing a novel. And you don’t ever need to read about writing. I mean, it definitely helps, but there are tons of people who never do and experience a modicum of success. (Which is hard to define, and that’s why I have this video about defining success, and one about how I define it myself.)

And if you need some convincing about why you should read some books on writing, well, watch today’s video:

Now, if you’re interested in reading about writing, I’ve got you. In fact, I write about books on writing a lot. I have also have posts on books to help you get through NaNoWriMo, as well as the best books for writers to read. But if those posts don’t have what you’re looking for, here are the best books on creative writing.

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Best Books on Creative Writing

Damn Fine Story by Chuck Wendig

Everything Chuck Wendig touches turns to gold. And curse words. And silliness. And bees. If you haven’t been following Chuck on Twitter or his blog, you’re definitely missing out. After years of self-publishing books on writing, Chuck finally released this majestic tome. If you’re interested in writing well-written genre fiction with strong characters, then I highly recommend this one, mostly because that’s how Chuck rolls. This book covers all the important parts of storytelling, from structure to characters, to tension, to themes. So, if you’re looking for everything you need to know about novel writing wrapped up with a tight little bow, check out Damn Fine Story.

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Story Genius by Lisa Cron

Have you ever wondered if there’s a scientific process to structure your story so that readers love it? Well, wonder no more! Lisa Cron’s Story Genius uses scientific information about what our brains crave when it comes to story, and shows you how to create a story that your readers will love. While I haven’t read this book, those who have seem to love how Cron breaks down the steps to creating a compelling story. Also, there are plenty of examples in the book to get your brain juices flowing.

The Writing Life by Annie Dillard

For me, the hardest thing about building a writing career has been waiting. You work your ass off on a thing that takes forever, and you make gains. So small and so few, but you slowly get there, and you feel like you’re spending all your time away from your day job working on your dream. That’s why I’m recommending this. Sometimes writing is terrible work. Sometimes it’s so hard and you feel so bad about yourself. Sometimes you hate yourself for choosing to do this, even though you know you kind of have to because there are brief moments in between all the frustration where you truly love it. This book talks about that.

Still Writing by Dani Shapiro

Okay. So, we’ve all heard of Stephen King’s On Writing, and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. But if you’re looking for a similar vibe of a life lived as a writer, but not from those two aforementioned sources, then you need to read Still Writing by Dani Shapiro. I really love reading personal stories from writers, and seeing how those who have published have made their way to where they are. And like I said earlier, it’s good to get some motivation to stay the course. Because dang. It’s tough to get going as a writer.

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Writing Tools: 55 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark

There’s a special place in my heart for advice from writing teachers. (Yes, I’m a writing teacher, and like, back up off. SELF-LOVE IS A GATEWAY TO LOVING EVERYONE YOU JERK.) This book of essays is organized into four sections, and contains essays and examples from literature and journalism. And the best part is that the advice is both accessible and inspiring, and a great jumping off point for those who want to learn a little bit more about the craft of writing.

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The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler

I’m going to be real. This book is huge, and is definitely not something that you can just casually consume by tossing it in your bag and pulling it out next time you’re waiting in line somewhere. But it is a great resource if you’re interested in traditional story structure and the hero’s journey. But if that’s not your bag, fear not! A lot of the information in this book can applied to any sort of outlining structure you’re using.

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What Are Your Favorite Creative Writing Books?

What books do you keep in your writing book library? What book unlocked the mysteries of writing for you? Are you super stoked for next month’s writing book post that focuses just on books for fiction writing? (SPOILER ALERT!)

3 Responses

  1. Hi there! I found you through Saara and her Heart Breathings Channel. I have a question, would you recommend reading these books before you even start the writing process?

    1. I don’t think it could hurt to read them before you start, but you definitely don’t have to wait! Ultimately, I think you’ll get the most if you practice writing and supplement that practice with reading books on writing.

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