Top Creative Writing Books for the New Writer

When I started to have an interest in writing, I picked up every writing book I could find in Borders (Remember Borders? God, what a great store) and Barnes & Nobles. Below is a list of writing books that I have found helpful in my writing career.

Though these books are mostly for creative writing in terms of literature, these books have proven useful for screenwriting as well. Learning about how to write literature is benefical in one’s own writing progress.

 

On Writing, Stephen King

stephen king on writing

Immensely helpful and illuminating to any aspiring writer, this special edition of Stephen King’s critically lauded, million-copy bestseller shares the experiences, habits, and convictions that have shaped him and his work.

 

 

 

The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron

the artists way julia cameron

For the millions of people who have uncovered their creative selves through the Artist’s Way program-a workbook and companion to the international bestseller.

Alife-changing twelve-week program, The Artist’s Way has touched the lives of millions of people around the world. Now, for the first time, fans will have this elegantly designed and user-friendly volume for use in tandem with the book. The Artist’s Way Workbook includes:

– more than 110 Artist’s Way tasks;
– more than 50 Artist’s Way check-ins;
– a fascinating introduction to the workbook in which Cameron shares new insights into the creative process that she has culled in the decade since The Artist’s Way was originally published;
– new and original writings on Morning Page Journaling and the Artist’s Date-two of the most vital tools set forth by Cameron in The Artist’s Way.

The Artist’s Way Workbook is an indispensable book for anyone following the spiritual path to higher creativity laid out in The Artist’s Way.

 

The Emotion Thesaurus, Angela Ackerman

the emotion thesaurus

One of the biggest problem areas for writers is conveying a character’s emotions to the reader in a unique, compelling way. This book comes to the rescue by highlighting 75 emotions and listing the possible body language cues, thoughts, and visceral responses for each.

Using its easy-to-navigate list format, readers can draw inspiration from character cues that range in intensity to match any emotional moment. The Emotion Thesaurus also tackles common emotion-related writing problems and provides methods to overcome them.

This writing tool encourages writers to show, not tell emotion and is a creative brainstorming resource for any fiction project.

 

The Negative Trait Thesaurus, Angela Ackerman

negative trait

Crafting likable, interesting characters is a balancing act, and finding that perfect mix of strengths and weaknesses can be difficult. Not only does a well-drawn protagonist need positive attributes to help him succeed, he must also have flaws that humanize him and give him something to overcome. The same is true of villains and the rest of the story’s supporting cast. So how can writers figure out which flaws best fit their characters? Which negative traits will create personality clashes and conflict while making success difficult?

TAKE CHARACTER CREATION TO A WHOLE NEW LEVEL

Nothing adds complexity like character flaws. Inside the Negative Trait Thesaurus you’ll find:
*A vast collection of flaws to explore when building a character’s personality.
*Each entry includes possible causes, attitudes, behaviors, thoughts, and related emotions
*Real examples from literature, film, or television to show how each flaw can create life challenges and relational friction
*Advice on building layered and memorable characters from the ground up
*An in-depth look at backstory, emotional wounds, and how pain twists a character’s view of himself and his world, influencing behavior and decision making
*A flaw-centric exploration of character arc, relationships, motivation, and basic needs
*Tips on how to best show a character’s flaws to readers while avoiding common pitfalls
*Downloadable tools to aid writers in character creation

The Negative Trait Thesaurus sheds light on your character’s dark side. Written in list format and fully indexed, this brainstorming resource is perfect for creating deep, flawed characters readers will relate to.

 

The Positive Trait Thesaurus, Angela Ackerman

positive

It’s a writer’s job to create compelling characters who can withstand life’s fallout without giving up. But building authentic, memorable heroes is no easy task. To forge realistic characters, we must hobble them with flaws that set them back while giving them positive attributes to help them achieve their goals. So how do writers choose the right blend of strengths for their characters—attributes that will render them admirable and worth rooting for—without making it too easy for them to succeed?

UNEARTH YOUR CHARACTER’S UNIQUE PERSONALITY

Character creation can be hard, but it’s about to get a lot easier. Inside The Positive Trait Thesaurus, you’ll find:
*A large selection of attributes to choose from when building a personality profile. Each entry lists possible causes for why a trait might emerge, along with associated attitudes, behaviors, thoughts, and emotions
*Real character examples from literature, film, or television to show how an attribute drives actions and decisions, influences goals, and steers relationships
*Advice on using positive traits to immediately hook readers while avoiding common personality pitfalls
*Insight on human needs and morality, and how each determines the strengths that emerge in heroes and villains alike
*Information on the key role positive attributes play within the character arc, and how they’re vital to overcoming fatal flaws and achieving success
*Downloadable tools for organizing a character’s attributes and providing a deeper understanding of his past, his needs, and the emotional wounds he must overcome

If you find character creation difficult or worry that your cast members all seem the same, The Positive Trait Thesaurus is brimming with ideas to help you develop one-of-a-kind, dynamic characters that readers will love. Extensively indexed, with entries written in a user-friendly list format, this brainstorming resource is perfect for any character creation project.

 

Writing Tools, Roy Peter Clark

 writing toolsTen years ago, Roy Peter Clark, America’s most influential writing teacher, whittled down almost thirty years of experience in journalism, writing, and teaching into a series of fifty short essays on different aspects of writing. In the past decade, Writing Tools has become a classic guidebook for novices and experts alike and remains one of the best loved books on writing available.

Organized into four sections, “Nuts and Bolts,” “Special Effects,” “Blueprints for Stories,” and “Useful Habits,” Writing Tools is infused with more than 200 examples from journalism and literature. This new edition includes five brand new, never-before-shared tools.

Accessible, entertaining, inspiring, and above all, useful for every type of writer, from high school student to novelist, Writing Tools is essential reading.

 

How to Write A Lot, Paul J. Silvia

how to write a lot

All students and professors need to write, and many struggle to finish their stalled dissertations, journal articles, book chapters, or grant proposals. Writing is hard work and can be difficult to wedge into a frenetic academic schedule.

In this practical, light-hearted, and encouraging book, Paul J. Silvia explains that writing productively does not require innate skills or special traits but specific tactics and actions. Drawing examples from his own field of psychology, he shows readers how to overcome motivational roadblocks and become prolific without sacrificing evenings, weekends, and vacations. After describing strategies for writing productively, the author gives detailed advice from the trenches on how to write, submit, revise, and resubmit articles; how to improve writing quality; and how to write and publish academic work.

 

You Are a Writer, Jeff Goins

you are a writer

It’s every novelist’s greatest fear: pouring their blood, sweat, and tears into writing hundreds of pages only to realize that their story has no sense of urgency, no internal logic, and so is a page one rewrite.

The prevailing wisdom in the writing community is that there are just two ways around this problem: pantsing (winging it) and plotting (focusing on the external plot). Story coach Lisa Cron has spent her career discovering why these methods don’t work and coming up with a powerful alternative, based on the science behind what our brains are wired to crave in every story we read (and it’s not what you think).

In Story Genius Cron takes you, step-by-step, through the creation of a novel from the first glimmer of an idea, to a complete multilayered blueprint—including fully realized scenes—that evolves into a first draft with the authority, richness, and command of a riveting sixth or seventh draft.

 

On Writing Well, William Zenserr

on writing well

On Writing Well has been praised for its sound advice, its clarity and the warmth of its style. It is a book for everybody who wants to learn how to write or who needs to do some writing to get through the day, as almost everybody does in the age of e-mail and the Internet. Whether you want to write about people or places, science and technology, business, sports, the arts or about yourself in the increasingly popular memoir genre, On Writing Well offers you fundamental priciples as well as the insights of a distinguished writer and teacher. With more than a million copies sole, this volume has stood the test of time and remains a valuable resource for writers and would-be writers.

 

The Writing Life, Marie Arana

the writing life

Featuring a gathering of more than fifty of contemporary literature’s finest voices, this volume will enchant, move, and inspire readers with its tales of The Writing Life. In it, authors divulge professional secrets: how they first discovered they were writers, how they work, how they deal with the myriad frustrations and delights a writer’s life affords. Culled from ten years of the distinguished Washington Post column of the same name, The Writing Life highlights an eclectic group of luminaries who have wildly varied stories to tell, but who share this singularly beguiling career. Here are their pleasures as well as their peeves; revelations of their deepest fears; dramas of triumphs and failures; insights into the demands and rewards.

Each piece is accompanied by a brief and vivid biography of the writer by Washington Post Book World editor Marie Arana who also provides an introduction to the collection. The result is a rare view from the inside: a close examination of writers’ concerns about the creative process and the place of literature in America. For anyone interested in the making of fiction and nonfiction, here is a fascinating vantage on the writer’s world–an indispensable guide to the craft.

 

Getting into Character, Brandilyn Collins

getting into christmas

Want to bring characters to life on the page as vividly as fine actors do on the stage or screen? Getting Into Character will give you a whole new way of thinking about your writing. Drawing on the Method Acting theory that theater professionals have used for decades, this in-depth guide explains seven characterization techniques and adapts them for the novelist’s use. You’ll discover concepts that will lead you to understand and communicate the motivation and psychology of all your characters. These highly effective techniques will help you: ~ create characters whose distinctive traits become plot components ~ determine each character’s specific objectives and motivations ~ write natural, meaningful dialogue that moves the story forward ~ endow your characters with three-dimensional emotional lives ~ use character motivation to bring action sequences to exuberant life ~ write convincingly about any character facing any circumstance.

 

 

Hooked, Les Edgerton

hooked

The road to rejection is paved with bad beginnings. Agents and editors agree: Improper story beginnings are the single biggest barrier to publication. Why? If a novel or short story has a bad beginning, then no one will keep reading. It’s just that simple.

In Hooked, author Les Edgerton draws on his experience as a successful fiction writer and teacher to help you overcome the weak openings that lead to instant rejection by showing you how to successfully use the ten core components inherent to any great beginning. You’ll find:

  • Detailed instruction on how to develop your inciting incident
  • Keys for creating a cohesive story-worthy problem
  • Tips on how to avoid common opening gaffes like overusing backstory
  • A rundown on basics such as opening scene length and transitions
  • A comprehensive analysis of more than twenty great opening lines from novels and short stories

Plus, you’ll discover exclusive insider advice from agents and acquiring editors on what they look for in a strong opening. With Hooked, you’ll have all the information you need to craft a compelling beginning that lays the foundation for an irresistible story!

 

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Renni Brown and Dave King

self editing for fiction writers

Hundreds of books have been written on the art of writing. Here at last is a book by two professional editors to teach writers the techniques of the editing trade that turn promising manuscripts into published novels and short stories.

In this completely revised and updated second edition, Renni Browne and Dave King teach you, the writer, how to apply the editing techniques they have developed to your own work. Chapters on dialogue, exposition, point of view, interior monologue, and other techniques take you through the same processes an expert editor would go through to perfect your manuscript. Each point is illustrated with examples, many drawn from the hundreds of books Browne and King have edited.

 

Write Great Fiction: Character, Emotion, and Viewpoint

 characters emotion view.jpgHow do you create a main character readers won’t forget? How do you write a book in multiple-third-person point of view without confusing your readers (or yourself)? How do you plant essential information about a character’s past into a story?

Write Great Fiction: Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint by award-winning author Nancy Kress answers all of these questions and more! This accessible book is filled with interactive exercises and valuable advice that teaches you how to:

  • Choose and execute the best point of view for your story
  • Create three-dimensional and believable characters
  • Develop your characters’ emotions
  • Create realistic love, fight, and death scenes
  • Use frustration to motivate your characters and drive your story

With dozens of excerpts from some of today’s most popular writers, Write Great Fiction: Characters, Emotion & Viewpointprovides you with the techniques you need to create characters and stories sure to linger in the hearts and minds of agents, editors, and readers long after they’ve finished your book.

 

Write Great Fiction: Plot and Structure

plot and structure

How does plot influence story structure? What’s the difference between plotting for commercial and literary fiction? How do you revise a plot or structure that’s gone off course?

With Write Great Fiction: Plot & Structure, you’ll discover the answers to these questions and more. Award-winning author James Scott Bell offers clear, concise information that will help you create a believable and memorable plot, including:

  • Techniques for crafting strong beginnings, middles, and ends
  • Easy-to-understand plotting diagrams and charts
  • Brainstorming techniques for original plot ideas
  • Thought-provoking exercises at the end of each chapter
  • Story structure models and methods for all genres
  • Tips and tools for correcting common plot problems

Filled with plot examples from popular novels, comprehensive checklists, and practical hands-on guidance, Write Great Fiction: Plot & Structure gives you the skills you need to approach plot and structure like an experienced pro.

 

Write Great Fiction: Description and Setting

 descp settingHow essential is setting to a story? How much description is too much? In what ways do details and setting tie into plot and character development? How can you use setting and description to add depth to your story?

You can find all the answers you need in Write Great Fiction: Description & Setting by author and instructor Ron Rozelle. This nuts-and-bolts guide – complete with practical exercises at the end of each chapter – gives you all the tips and techniques you need to:

  • Establish a realistic sense of time and place
  • Use description and setting to drive your story
  • Craft effective description and setting for different genres
  • Skillfully master showing vs. telling

With dozens of excerpts from some of today’s most popular writers, Write Great Fiction: Description & Setting gives you all the information you need to create a sharp and believable world of people, places, events, and actions.

 

Write Great Fiction: Dialogue
dialogue

When should your character talk, what should (or shouldn’t) he say, and when should he say it? How do you know when dialogue–or the lack thereof–is dragging down your scene? How do you fix a character who speaks without the laconic wit of the Terminator?

Write Great Fiction: Dialogue by successful author and instructor Gloria Kempton has the answers to all of these questions and more! It’s packed with innovative exercises and instruction designed to teach you how to:

  • Create dialogue that drives the story
  • Weave dialogue with narrative and action
  • Write dialogue that fits specific genres
  • Avoid the common pitfalls of writing dialogue
  • Make dialogue unique for each character

Along with dozens of dialogue excerpts from today’s most popular writers, Write Great Fiction: Dialogue gives you the edge you need to make your story stand out from the rest.

 

Write Great Fiction: Revision and Self-Editing

 revision and self editDon’t let the revision process intimidate you any longer. Discover how to successfully transform your first draft into a polished final draft readers won’t be able to forget.

In Write Great Fiction: Revision & Self-Editing, James Scott Bell draws on his experience as a novelist and instructor to provide specific revision tips geared toward the first read-through, as well as targeted self-editing instruction focusing on the individual elements of a novel like plot, structure, characters, theme, voice, style, setting, and endings. You’ll learn how to:

  • Write a cleaner first draft right out of the gate using Bell’s plotting principles
  • Get the most out of revision and self-editing techniques by honing your skills with detailed exercises
  • Systematically revise a completed draft using the ultimate revision checklist that talks you through the core story elements

Whether you’re in the process of writing a novel, have a finished draft you don’t know what to do with, or have a rejected manuscript you don’t know how to fix, Revision & Self-Editing gives you the guidance you need to write and revise like a pro.

 

Story Engineering, Larry Brooks

story enginnering

The vast majority of writers begin the storytelling process with only a partial understanding where to begin. Some labor their entire lives without ever learning that successful stories are as dependent upon good engineering as they are artistry. But the truth is, unless you are master of the form, function and criteria of successful storytelling, sitting down and pounding out a first draft without planning is an ineffective way to begin.

Story Engineering starts with the criteria and the architecture of storytelling, the engineering and design of a story–and uses it as the basis for narrative. The greatest potential of any story is found in the way six specific aspects of storytelling combine and empower each other on the page. When rendered artfully, they become a sum in excess of their parts.

You’ll learn to wrap your head around the big pictures of storytelling at a professional level through a new approach that shows how to combine these six core competencies which include:

  • Four elemental competencies of concept, character, theme, and story structure (plot)
  • Two executional competencies of scene construction and writing voice

The true magic of storytelling happens when these six core competencies work together in perfect harmony. And the best part? Anyone can do it!

 

 

 

 

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