Over 70 of the Best Books For Writers (2024)

by Joe Bunting and J. D. Edwin | 73 comments

Looking for a book to take your writing skills to the next level? Today we've rounded up the best books for writers. See if your favorite book made the list!

The Best Books for Writers with stack of books

When we polled our writing community recently, we found that the top books on writing that came up over and over included:

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
On Writing by Steven King
The Modern Library's Writer's Workshop by Stephen Koch (one of Joe's favorites!) 
On Writing Well by William Zinsser

Have you read any of them? 

It's an age old lesson that if you want to be a great writer, you need to read—and read a lot!

But how can you, a writer, pick the right books for you to read? Time is limited and precious, after all. As much as we'd love to read most everything, we can't.

So how do we choose our titles wisely? Which ones will help us level up our writing process? Which writing books will take us from amateur to professional writer? 

I'd recommend turning your attention and pocketbook to five types of books for honing your writing skills and for writing advice. (And full disclosure, some of the links here are affiliate links which won't affect your price but will help us keep finding great books for you here at The Write Practice!) 

5 Types of Books Every Writer Should Read

Over the years, I’ve learned that, to become a better writer, you must be simultaneously adventurous and targeted in your reading selection. This may sound contradictory, but trust me, it's not.

Luckily, I've realized that there are five types of books that will make me a better writer. So when I'm debating which books I want to invest time reading, I consider whether they're one of these.

1. Writing craft books that focus on writing techniques

You may have heard at some point that writing is all about talent. That couldn’t be more wrong.

Writing, like anything else, is a craft that can be learned and practiced. However, you don’t need a degree to learn how to write. You can do so by simply reading books that focus on the techniques of writing, such as plot, character, sentence building, constructing short stories, the works.

When you read these books, pay attention to examples and understand how they’re being used. Keep your favorite ones around for future reference, and mark the pages of the techniques that you like the most.

Figure out which topics are hardest for you and find practical advice books on them by an experienced writer or craft expert. I know that's intimidating, but this is how we learn. The same topic presented by different authors may offer you fresh perspective, and hopefully this will help you overcome a writing technique that you find difficult to master.

Here are some of our favorite craft of writing books:

Story Structure

  1. Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee
  2. Story Grid by Shawn Coyne
  3. The Write Structure by Joe Bunting
  4. Mastering Suspense, Structure, & Plot by Jane K. Cleland
  5. Story Genius by Lisa Cron
  6. Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody


7. The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maass
8. The Secrets of Character by Matt Bird

Elements of Fiction

9. Write Great Fiction series by James Scott Bell, Ron Rozelle, Nancy Kress, and Gloria Kempton
10. Creating Short Fiction by Damon Knight
11. Understanding Show, Don't Tell by Janice Hardy
12. The Art of Fiction by John Garner
13. Elements of Fiction by Walter Mosley
14. The Conflict Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
15. The Describer's Dictionary by David Gramps and Ellen S. Levine
16. The Moral Premise by Dr. Stanley Williams


17. The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr
18. The Memoir Project by Marion Roach Smith

Revision and Editing

19. It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences by June Casagrande
20. The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
21. Stein on Writing by Sol Stein
22. Refuse to be Done by Matt Bell
23. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King
24. Several Short Sentences About Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg

Process and Business of Writing

25. Before and After the Book Deal by Courtney Maum
26. The Business of Being a Writer by Jane Friedman
27. The Art of Noticing by Rob Walker
28. Your First 1,000 Copies by Tim Grahl
29. Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain
30. The Write Fast System by J. Danforth

Which craft advice do you need most today to expand your writing tools? Don't get overwhelmed—just begin with one and practice today! 

2. Books that shed light on what it's like to be a writer

This is a category that people don’t often think of often. These are books by writers that are about the non-technical aspects of writing, such as productivity techniques, publishing, or just generally what it’s like to live as a writer.

That makes these books writers should read because we can learn a lot from those who came before us!

Why would I want to know how other writers live? This was something I didn’t understand myself when I first stumbled onto these books.

But the fact is, there is a lot to learn from reading about the path other writers have trod.

Did you know that even famous writers go through the same struggles with motivation? Or that most writers have day jobs and often question whether their writing is worth it when it doesn’t bring in money? We are all different, yet we are all alike, whether we’ve made it yet or not.

We all have our on responsibilities and priorities, but how we balance life and our writing life has similar patterns and hurdles. Learning from those who have come before us can help us avoid pitfalls, which saves us more time and keeps us motivated to get back to what we love—writing!

From these books, I learned that publishing is not as glamorous as I dreamed of as a teenager.

I learned that every writer who writes well has a pile of stories that no one has read.

I learned that Stephen King pinned rejection letters to the wall with a tack, then when the pile got too thick, he switched to using a large spike and kept writing. These books give you a view of reality, while simultaneously reminding you that every writer has struggled. You are never alone.

Some of our favorites on what it's like to live as a writer include:

31. The War of Art and Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield
32. On Writing by Stephen King
33. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
34. Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
35. Walking on Water by Madeline L'Engle
36. The Writing Life and Living by Fiction by Annie Dillard
37. Create Dangerously by Edwidge Dandicat
38. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
39. You Are a Writer by Jeff Goins
40. Write Away by Elizabeth George
41. Consider This by Chuck Palahniuk
42. Steal Like an Artist, Keep Going, and Show Your Work by Austin Kleon
43. Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
44. The Artist's Way or Write for Life by Julia Cameron

Maybe someday another favorite will be a book by you!

3. Popular books that keep you in the loop

Hear me out.

Popular books are popular for a reason, which means books that sold well and withstood time are books writers should read.

They don’t have to be your favorite style or genre, but almost always, a book is famous for a reason.

Maybe they appeal to a certain audience, or maybe they have a particular way of making people feel good. Maybe they bring a unique perspective. Maybe they indulge in a guilty pleasure.

No matter the reason, reading some of the chart-topping books will almost always teach you something.

If nothing else, it gives you an insight into what appeals to the general audience at the moment, and while we should never write a book to fit a trend, we can learn from the books that have captured the hearts of readers for years on end. We looked up some of the top books of the last two decades and threw in a few classic book titles too.

Here are a few crowd favorites and classics to start on:

45. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
46 The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
47. Divergent series by Veronica Roth
48. The Martian by Andy Weir
49. Throne of Glass series by Sarah Maas
50. Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin
51. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
52. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
53. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
54. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
55. A Man Called Ove by Frederick Backman
56. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
57. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
58. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
59. Americanah by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie
60. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
61. Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
62. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
63. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jasmyn Ward 
64. Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, or Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
65. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márque
66. All the Pretty Horses  by Cormac McCarthy

4. Books in your genre (yes!)

Yes! One of the books writers should read are books in their genre!

To learn from others who have succeeded before you will benefit you tremendously. Reading will help you see what you like about the genre, what makes it unique, and what appeals to the audience that also loves reading these types of stories.

But maybe you have a fear of accidentally plagiarizing someone else.

What if you read so much of what others have written that you end up stealing their ideas without thinking?

If this is your fear, I have good news for you—it’s nearly impossible to truly steal someone else’s idea. Stories are more than often the same story but different, and you can tell a similar story but make it yours by changing up the characters, the plot, the setting, and the conflict.

There are lots of genres, and I'm sure you already have some titles that are your favorites in the genre you write popping up inside your head. Even if you read them once, go read them again.

Make a list of five books that you could read over and over again.

Only this time, read them like a writer. Read them with a radar that looks for how the genre applies its tropes, its patterns, and its themes.

(Need help doing this? Pick up a copy of Roy Peter Clark's book The Art of X-Ray Reading)

5. Books outside your genre

There is one major reason to read books outside the genre you write. In fact, it’s the same reason that some books writers should read lie outside the genres they normally read—it will broaden their horizons.

Reading books you normally don’t read pushes you outside your comfort zone and turns creative gears you didn’t know you had.

Do you write action? Try reading a romance. It could help you develop that romantic subplot.

Do you write fantasy? Try some science fiction. Maybe that fantasy world could use some unique old world tech.

Here are a few rather unique books we’ve come across in my long journey of reading that just might tickle something in you:

67. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
68. The Paper Menagerie by Kevin Liu
69. Karate Chop by Dorthe Nors
70. People I Want to Punch in the Throat by Jen Mann
71. True Grit by Charles Portis
72. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
73. Congratulations, The Best is Over by R. Eric Thomas

What unusual titles have you read that have stayed with you? Share in the comments

Just Keep Reading, Just Keep Reading

I'll say it one last time: successful writers need to read.

There are also certain books writers should read to expand and refine your creative process.

Exploring books inside and outside of your comfort zone will not only make you a better writer, but they also might help you discover a story type you never knew you'd love. And stories change lives, so, maybe that life changing book for you is out there waiting for you to find it!

As writers, we all have something important to say, and how that's said is probably communicated in one of these five types of books shared in this post.

Becoming a better writer is a life of adventure, and reading is a giant, wonderful part of it. As you build a writing practice, books are a central part of learning. 

However, if you find yourself crunched for time, if you find yourself resistant to reading anything outside your genre, maybe this list of five types of books will give you the courage and understanding to try, every once in a while, something new. Something else.

I'd love to learn the books that have made a difference on your writing career, and I'm interested to see if they fall in one of these five book categories.

Have some of the best writing books you want to recommend? Share with your fellow writers in the comments!


Let's take some advice from one of Joe's favorite books: The Modern Library's Writer's Workshop. Write a story in one sitting. Write as quickly as you can, and if you get bogged down, just skip that part and move on. Just make sure you get to the end.

When you're finished with your fast draft, post a section (no more than three paragraphs) the Pro Practice Workshop. And if you post be sure to comment on a few practices by other writers. Not a member? Join us! 

Have fun!

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Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

Want best-seller coaching? Book Joe here.

J. D. Edwin is a daydreamer and writer of fiction both long and short, usually in soft sci-fi or urban fantasy. Sign up for her newsletter for free articles on the writer life and updates on her novel, find her on Facebook and Twitter (@JDEdwinAuthor), or read one of her many short stories on Short Fiction Break literary magazine.

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  1. Christa Sterken

    Joe this sounds like a good one. Always glad to hear about a book that advances craft

    • Joe Bunting

      Glad to hear it, Christa. Thanks!

    • Joe Bunting

      Great, Bryan. I think you in particular will like it.

  2. Julie Hedlund

    I hadn’t heard of this book, but you can bet I’ll be getting it now! Thanks for the writeup.

    • Joe Bunting

      You’re quite welcome, Julie. I hope you enjoy it.

  3. Abigail Rogers

    Wow, that recommendation was so good, I just bought the book!

    • Joe Bunting

      Good for you, Abigail. Thanks!

  4. Grace Peterson

    Very interesting. Perhaps the message is, there are as many different ways to write as there are writers. We all go about it slightly different. I think I would enjoy this book, especially reading the “discussion” between authors.

    • Joe Bunting

      Yes and no. The nice thing is that they agree on quite a lot, which provides a standard structure so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, or the writing life, anyway. Still, the things they disagree about are fascinating.

  5. Katie Axelson

    1. I’m stuck here right now. I love rereading my own work (is that vain? Joe, don’t answer that. It’s a literary term called a rhetorical question) which often prevents me from moving forward.
    2. I would love to hear a conversation between those folks.

    • Joe Bunting

      1. Yes, it’s vain (I don’t care about your silly literary terms), but that makes me vain as well.
      2. Me too. I’ll settle with reading it though. 😉

    • Giulia Esposito

      Ha! You two just made me laugh out loud!

    • Katie Axelson

      Thanks, Giulia. Getting to banter with @JoeBunting:disqus is the best part about being on The Write Practice team. 😉

  6. poohhodges

    Thank you Mr. Bunting for suggesting a new book for me to read. My favorite book is Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird. I should write a book on writing, and call it “Mouse by Mouse.”

    • Joe Bunting

      You should indeed, Mr. Hodges.

  7. fcmalby

    This is a great article. Thanks for sharing the book, it’s one I haven’t heard of.

  8. mariannehvest

    Antoinette didn’t like horses. She didn’t like dresses. She didn’t like dolls. But, her mother ignored all of that. Louise McGill-Lynne continued to dress her darling, like a little girl, a princess, a cutie-pie, and she continued to buy her doll after doll after doll, hoping that her daughter would fall in love with at least one of them. Antoinette didn’t. She only liked a stuffed Minnie Mouse whom she dragged thought the dirt in the backyard. The Minnie Mouse’s name was Favorite. When Louise laundered Favorite the enormous metal cartoon eyes were scratched in the dryer and Louise was afraid that Antoinette would be upset, but Antoinette didn’t seem to mind. In fact she didn’t seem to notice.

    When Antoinette was about to turn four, she and Louise were in the backyard playing in their new sandbox. Louise showed Antoinette how to draw the floor plan for a house in the sand and decorate it with peony petal furniture. Antoinette picked twigs from the grass for fences that she wanted to put in the bedroom to corral horses. While they were making their house in the sand, Louise saw a friend from work coming out of her backdoor waving and hollering.

    “Hey Louise, hey Antoinette, I brought you something. Your husband told me you were out here.

    Louise placed one last petal in the imaginary living room and stepped out of the sandbox trying not to disrupt the house. She was surprised to see her co-worker, and she didn’t like to see anything from work on the weekends.

    Kathleen held out a small box wrapped in pink to Antoinette. “I got you something honey. It’s a present. Antoinette did not get to her feet, nor did she smile. Kathleen frowned and said, “Don’t you like presents honey.”

    “She doesn’t like to be called honey. She funny about things,” said Louise in a low tone of voice, the tone of voice one uses when they don’t want a child to pay attention.

    “Doesn’t like to be called honey. Why not?” said Kathleen to Antoinette.

    Antoinette drew her brows down and tucked her chin in.

    • Ruth

      I want to know what was in the gift! I enjoyed reading your story so far…

    • mariannehvest

      Thanks Ruth.

    • Missaralee

      I love that she is named Antoinette and hates dolls. Such a girly name for such stubborn miss. This piece is really great; it feels like it came straight from a completed work. Your style is lovely as usual, Marianne.

    • mariannehvest

      Thank you very much Missaralee. I like that you said that about her hame. I’m going to have her give herself a nickname in protest I think.

    • Karl Tobar

      I enjoyed reading this and I too would like to know what the gift was. I like Antoinette, she seems quirky.

    • mariannehvest

      Thanks Karl. I like her to. She is one of those characters that just seemed to show up in my mind personality in place. I hope she stays interesting.

    • Giulia Esposito

      All right, I’m burning with curiousity to find out what that present is, and what Antoinette was going to say. If anything…I’m just dying to know the rest.

    • mariannehvest

      Thanks, I think it’s another doll or something girly which Antoinette won’t like.

  9. mariannehvest

    I’ve been looking for another good book on writing so I’ll try the one by Koch. Another thing that’s good to use for writing advice is Glimmer Train’s “Writer’s Ask”. It is arranged by topic using the answers that various successful authors have used given in interviews. That doesn’t explain it very well but it’s well worth reading IMO.

    • Joe Bunting

      I like Writer’s Ask, too, Marianne. Thanks for mentioning that.

  10. Angela

    I’ve added it to my list. At the moment I’m busy with Stein on Writing, has anyone else read it? I’m really enjoying it so far 😉

    • Joe Bunting

      I’ve heard of it but haven’t read it. Glad to hear it’s good.

    • Rhonda Kronyk

      I love On Writing. It is one of my favorite writing books. Bird by Bird is also wonderful, as is On Writing. The remarkable thing about each of these books is the very different voice and perspective that each author brings to his/her craft. I look forward to adding Do the Work and Guide to Fiction. While I write non-fiction, I always find new approaches and tools in any book about writing.

  11. Missaralee

    That sounds like a great book! I like this writing in a dash concept. The practice below ballooned to 3000 words in one go and it might just hit 10,000 if I get time to really finish it today.
    She had lived in the big old house with her grandmother for twenty years. Never straying through the garden gate, never going farther than the barn to feed the animals, or harvest them up for supper. Tonight she sat on the roof, her face thoughtful as the
    greens, yellows and pinks of the northern lights played across her cheeks and whispered sweet nothings to her ears. The lights had always told her to come out and catch them. So many evenings on the roof she wanted to slide down from the roof rail to land in the hawthorn bushes and tear herself away from the farm, from the turf, from the house and her ailing grandmother. Her grandmother. The only reason she disobeyed the northern lights was her grandmother, sick and frail. She had been practically catatonic since her husband had died 15 years back. Occasionally she would brighten up and ramble about wedding cakes and fancy candies she had made and sold in town. A diligent young woman, she had kept the farm afloat through droughts, depressions and pestilence by selling her handiwork and designing the polyresin domes that made life in the north possible. She was clever with her hands, a natural artist. She had passed the gift on to her granddaughter. The walls of every room were covered in paintings and designs. No wallpaper could ever be as beautiful as the tattoos Lindy had lovingly sketched out and painted floor to ceiling in every room. Some featured giraffes and monkeys on parade. Others shooting stars and wind whistling through pine trees.
    Lindy dreamed. Sitting in the musty house, making tea for her grandmother, tending the garden, cooking the meals, it was all done in a dream. Far away from there she was a maid in an emperors household. She was a geisha entertaining lords. She was a famous archeologist, digging up priceless artifacts as she removed the stones from the garden plots. Not a day in that house, was she really there, except that one day. The one where the butcher’s son had come calling after Tulip had been lamed stepping into a gopher hole in the pastures. Lindy was furious that day. Grieved. Beside herself. Tulip was her last friend in the northern cage. And now the boy had come to collect her to line his shelves with meat and glue. Lindy had made tea for the boy, Tinder. She’s brought out lemon-iced biscuits studded with currents. She kept back the fine cocoa dusted truffles she’d made after grandmother’s recipe. She had been determined to be civil, but that didn’t mean she had to treat him like a treasured guest. He afterall was not at fault for Tulip’s leg.

    It had been gophers who’d signed her sale papers, and you had best believe that Lindy took after them good. They too had gotten treats today. What a merry funeral feast they would have before the poison took them. Serves them right living off her potatoes and nibbling the tops off her squash. Tinder was a well-built boy, strong from years of working in his father’s shop. Lindy had been impressed, despite herself, by his muscular arms and wide shoulders.
    “I’m truly sorry about your mare” he said quietly. “It’s a wrong sort of thing to lose a fine worker” he blushed as he dipped his biscuit into the tea, “and friend” he finished.

    “Thank you” said Lindy, suddenly shy. “I think I have some chocolates in the pantry, if you’d like.”

    • Giulia Esposito

      I love the description in this piece. It’s beautiful.

    • Missaralee

      Thanks Giulia 🙂 I saw a picture of an old house under the northern lights a few days ago and this story grew as I kept imagining those colours and the feeling the sadness of it.

    • Giulia Esposito

      It’s funny how looking at a picture can inspire a story. I remember doing that in my writer’s craft class in high school.

    • mariannehvest

      It sounds like the beginning of a love story. She is so lonely that you hope she will find someone.

    • Beverly Stout

      It’s a well written excerpt. I want to read more. Very good work, Missaralie!

  12. Karl Tobar

    Oh wow this is so intimidating! I usually take over a week and countless sittings to finish just one draft. I’ll need to prep myself mentally for something like this. Phew. I’m sweating already.

    • Giulia Esposito

      You can do it! Just walk away from the computer and do something else and something will come to you. Walking away always helps me. I used to actually pace when I got stuck in the middle of an English paper back in my university days to get myself unstuck.

  13. Giulia Esposito

    Darn it, I misread the pracitce. I just spent fifteen mintues taking a part of piece I speed wrote the other day, the ghost story with the twins, and doing a slow second draft. Grr. I’m posting it anyway. Mostly I went through this scene, was dialogue heavy and added in a lot of detail and narration that I had left out the first time.
    My Practice:

    “Tom,dear…please, is something wrong?” Cassandra asked the question carefully,
    glancing at Adam.

    Tom downed his wine and gave anironic laugh. “The love of my life is dead and you have the nerve to ask me that?” He stood suddenly, the movement lithe and violent. His eyes had a diabolical gleam. The hazel colour of his once bottle green eyes, eyes that had been identical to hers, shocked Cassandra; they had darkened even more just a few hours. “Stop staring at me!” Tom snapped, “I’m not insane you know!”

    “Tom, calm down,” Adam said

    “Why should I?” shouted Tom and threw the glass of wine against the wall. “How can I? Do you not see what’shappening?” He ran out of the room and soon they heard a door slam upstairs.Cassandra let her head fall into her hands and bit her lip until she tastedblood. What was happening to her twin? Why were the colour of his eyes changing?

    She found she couldn’t sleepthat night. Her skin felt stretched too tight and she tossed and turned, hermind whirling. Tom, she felt certain, was slipping away. She was losing her brother. With a sudden thumping her in chest, she rose out of bed and slipped down the hall into Tom’s room. He slept face down, his breathing heavy and though the room was cold, he had kicked off the blankets and his skin was hotto the touch. Cassandra murmured to her twin, worrying he had a fever, but he slept soundly on. She moved to climb into bed with him, to sleep with him like
    they had when they were children, but even as she lifted the blanket to pull
    over herself, it was wrenched away.

    “No!” Tom cried with wild, dark eyes. “No, he is mine!”

    Cassandra pulled back with a horrified gasp, for the voice that came from her brother sounded nothing like his own. She let out a scream as Tom suddenly collapsed back on the bed, limp and lifeless.

    He jolted upright almost in the next instant.

    “Good God, Cassie, what are you doing here?” he asked hoarsely. “Why are
    you screaming?”

    “The lights!” Cassandra grasped at the wall, flicking on the lights overhead. She grabbed her brother’s face between her hands. “Your eyes!”

    “What’s wrong?” Tom asked again.

    “Your eyes were nearly black—and look at them now, they are not green at all Tom, look.”

    Tom pulled her hands from him gently. “ I know,” he whispered, “I know Cassie.”

    Cassandra frowned, feeling fear swell in her heart. “But what is it?”

    “It’s her,” he said after a moment in which he swallowed convulsively. “Don’t you see it’s her?”


    “Yes.” The word was uttered sorrowfully.

    “She’s-haunting you?”

    He nodded, “yes.”

    “But…Tom, what do we do? What does she want?”

    His laugh was hollow. “Me,” he replied. “She wants me.”

    • Carmen

      Oooh I want to read more! Where can I read more 🙂

    • Giulia Esposito

      Currently, only in my notebook 😉 I’m glad you liked it.

    • mariannehvest

      That’s pretty dramatic. I thought he was going to turn into a werewolf or something. I want to know what happens.

    • Giulia Esposito

      Thanks Marianne, I might actually finished revising the entire story slow later on.

  14. Eric Schneider

    I look forward to reading this book, Joe. AND…let me share the best writing book I ever read, just last year. DO THE WORK, by Steven Pressfield, well-selling author of historical fiction,and The Legend of Bagger Vance, and the terrific nonfiction book, THE WAR OF ART.
    After reading DO THE WORK, I sat down and spent two hours writing a brand new synopsis of the script I just sent off. It’s a little book, available on Amazon for $7.00. I give copies away now, to anyone who’s “struggling” to write. It will kick you in the block. The Premise: On the field of the Self stand a Knight and a Dragon. You are the Knight. Resistance is the Dragon..

    • Joe Bunting

      I love that book, Eric. Thanks for mentioning it!

    • mariannehvest

      I’ve heard of “The War on Art” and “Do the WorK” sounds great too. I’m going to get them too.

    • mariannehvest

      I need to get back to this entry and say. I got the book by Koch’s book and the one by Pressfield mentioned below and I love them. I’m writing much more confidently. Thanks again Joe and Eric for your recommendations.

    • Joe Bunting

      I’m so glad to hear that Marianne! I found the same.

  15. wendy2020

    My library system is down, so can’t check to see if they have it and if they did, I can’t check it out until they are up an running again. But thanks so much Joe for the heads up on a great resource.

    • Robert Lee

      I just ordered the book from my library and just received an email notification that it is ready to be picked up. I can hardly wait until tomorrow.

  16. Madison

    I guess I’ll apologize for some of my crude language, but these are teenagers. I’m a teenager. It’s how we talk.

    The best time I had ever was March two years ago. There was me, Ly, Jude, Mercy, Miliani, and Dempster. After school, every day, we all stayed at my house until it got dark and my parents got home. We’d bullshit our homework, listening Bing Crosby’s Christmas album, and then sit in either silence or talk about how much our lives suck.

    “Would you rather rob a bank or kill a guy?”

    “Shut up, Ring.”

    “I’m genuinely asking.”

    “Neither. It’s not worth my freedom.” Dempster.

    “My conscience would eat me alive,” Mil insisted.

    “What if there were no consequences?”

    “It would have to be a big bank in a city. This town’s too small to steal from.
    Everyone knows everyone,” Ly said in a whiney tone. I don’t blame her. This
    place makes me sick.

    “You guys are awful. Why steal from anyone? Those people could have families. You could be stealing from some kid’s college fund.” Mercy was always such a tight-ass. I don’t even know why she hung out with us.

    “Yo, yo, Mercy.”


    “Suck a dick.” I always gave Mercy a hard time, it was hilarious. “Lights. Lights,
    go.” My parents never knew about the group. They thought I didn’t have any
    friends, and I wanted to keep it that way since my parents seem to ruin
    everything that crosses their path, so when we see headlights, everyone grabs
    their bags and hops our fence and makes their way to the road and home. (We all
    lived pretty close to each other, so they were cool.) “Jude, you never chimed
    in. What about you?”

    Jude, his legs over both sides of the fence, seemed to think about it for a second
    but just said, “Naaahh, man. No. No.” He laughed a little, imagining what it
    would be like if he had the balls to actually rob a bank, but he doesn’t.

    “Alright, man. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

    “Yeah, Ringo. I’ll see yuh.”

    March, I think, we learned a lot about each other and ourselves and how far we’d go to satisfy ourselves. I don’t know, man… but that shit was cool.

    • Giulia Esposito

      I’m fascinated. Why are teenagers having this conversation? What’s Jude hiding? I have a feeling he’s hiding something big. And what else do they learn about each other in March? Very well written.

    • Madison

      I was actually doing homework on Macbeth when I was writing this, which had a lot to do with their personalities. I don’t know these character’s very well, but I think I’m gonna keep writing and find out. One thing I did find out about Jude, though, is that his is a coward. I think he’s hiding something big, too. Maybe trying to suppress his black thoughts like Macbeth did. You’ve just made me really excited about these guys. Thank you for the complement and commenting! 🙂

    • Paula

      I loved it.

  17. Deanna

    Thanks so much for your post Joe. It really resonated with me as one of my 2013 writing goals is to continue to expand (and read) my collection of books about writing. I actually started Koch’s book one afternoon in the library, checked it out, and ended up returning it unfinished. I will add it to my to buy list! As others have mentioned, Bird by Bird is a fantastic book. I love her voice! Thanks again-

  18. Marty Gavin

    I m almost halfway thru the book and while I am not done yet, I already feel this is a winner of a book for nybdy who writes.

    Having read so many writing books over the years, I can see this one taking its place along the “greats” like Bird by Bird, Stephen King’s, On Writing, and a few others.

  19. R.w. Foster

    I have three favorite books on writing:

    1) The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Rebecca Puglisi (http://www.amazon.com/The-Emotion-Thesaurus-Character-Expression/dp/1475004958/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1367621680&sr=8-1&keywords=the+emotion+thesaurus): This one really helps me with showing emtions (funny thing, eh?). I used to always go with “character x grinned” or something similar. Now, I write, “His cheeks curved up and his eyes sparkled.”

    2) Robert’s Rules of Writing by Robert Masello (http://www.amazon.com/Roberts-Rules-Writing-Robert-Masello/dp/B0042P5I10/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1367621843&sr=1-1&keywords=Robert%27s+Rules+of+Writing): This one really influenced my writing. The biggest things I took away from this book is rules that may work for you may not work for me and write what you read.

    3) Ink by R.S.Guthrie (http://www.amazon.com/Ink-Eight-Rules-Better-Book/dp/0989157601/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1367622556&sr=1-1&keywords=ink+r.s.+guthrie): This one taught me what was meant by “Show, Don’t Tell. I didn’t really understand it before, but I think I have it now.
    I hope others find these as useful as I do.

    • Susan

      I love the “character X grinned” versus “his cheeks curved up and his eyes sparkled” example. I think that will stay with me a long time and hopefully inform my writing. Thanks.

    • Jack Strandburg

      I use 1) extensively in my writing and just finished reading 3). Haven’t seen 2) yet, but might consider it – thanks!

  20. Robert Lee

    An inspirational book on writing is William Zinsser’s “On Writing Well”. I also enjoyed Stephen King’s book on writing, as well as James Frey’s.

    • Hannah

      All hail the King!!!

  21. Hannah

    Writing a story in one sitting can be quite a sad thing, I
    rarely do it because once you stand up the story is over, the characters are finished…
    but still there is always that hope for a future greater story to be bloomed
    from it. I wrote one story once, back in February I think, a fantasy story of
    course. It was called Candlelight, a magical five hundred word romance full of
    sweet sorrow. I wrote it in about half an hour, the characters started
    whispering in my head and then like an exhale of breath, they appeared on the
    page. Really breathtaking. Haha, but yeah, it was actually about four months
    later that I looked back at it, thinking that it was inspired by my forbidden
    lover, but then looking deeper (and falling once again for my Love that so
    easily gets away), I realized it was partly inspired by him and I, the one who
    keeps getting away, I mean and it was actually written on the day that he asked
    me for my number and we started talking, pondering all the Universe together in
    our budding Platonic love. Taken aback, I sent it to him, he saw it too. Sigh,
    I’m not sure where he is now, but we will find each other again. We always do….
    But anyways, I do love Stephen King’s On Writing and find his radical
    resentment for adverbs hilarious and somehow understandable. Only F. Scott
    Fitzgerald could pull their excessive off gracefully, anyone else, good luck
    and may your rest in literary pieces. JK. Lol.

  22. Susan

    After finishing my Linguistics masters ( a long process for me), I wanted to expand my writing beyond the academic (which I handle quite well). Around that time, order to avoid airline miles expiring, I had to make an on-line purchase before midnight. A cooking book? A photography book? A self-help book? No…I thought..a WRITING book. Yay!! I had a short time to peruse the options, and happened upon Writing Down the Bones..Freeing the writer Within by Natalie Goldberg. Here’s what I wrote in my journal: aaahhhh..I just received Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down The Bones. Some of the words elevate above the page, lifting to my eyes. I started reading the book and it brings me such peace. Natalie said to “giver [her] a moment to engage in some writing. I love her work already. I feel such peaceful energy and “permission” to write in my own voice, newly forming.

    THANKS FOR ALL TE BOOK SUGGESTIONS. Looking forward to exploring them.

  23. Sean Durham

    I’ve got a stack of writing books on my book shelf. Some are my favourites for constant reference, but Stephen Koch’s Book is my favourite of favourites. It’s really gets down to the nuts and bolts of writing a story. After reading it you feel like you’ve been in conversation with the author.

    • Joe Bunting


      Joe Bunting

  24. FritziGal

    One of the best books about writing I’ve ever run across, and one I would highly recommend is: “Reading Like A Writer” by Francine Prose. A guide for people who love books and for those who want to write them. FritziGal

  25. Rosie Fairfo

    I started reading the article above, but a pop up covering the article came up, asking me to join your mailing list. I struggled to get rid of it, but eventually managed to by reloading the page. Just wanted to feedback how offputting it was.

    • R.D. Hayes

      I also dislike these and find them pointless. If I want to subscribe I will search for the big button, otherwise I use extensions like Pocket and bookmarks to keep up to date on my favorite sites. I love my ad blocker for these silly popups. Does anyone use their inbox to subscribe anymore? I usually send it all to the junk folder when it starts cluttering my mail.

  26. Lambert58

    I really enjoyed Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing for tapping into creativity and inspiration.

  27. Louise Dean

    ‘True and False’ by David Mamet is a great book for writers. Guide books written by published authors are few and far between. There are no books or classes which teach ‘live’ in other words where you get to look over the shoulder and watch a writer write their novel from beginning to need. I believe that the only ‘course’ which teaches writing from inside the process is mine at http://www.kritikme.com…..


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