There are a lot of craft books about writing out there, but these are the five that have helped me develop as a writer considerably…
1. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King
This one might be an obvious choice, since I’ve been writing posts about this book going all the way back to last summer, but I really do think this is the one essential craft book read for any aspiring writer. Stephen King breaks down all the major elements of what it takes to be a novelist in very clear, engaging ways to the point where I like to read through this text at least once a year.
2. Writing the Breakout Novel: Insider Advice for Taking Your Fiction to the Next Level, by Donald Maass.
This is a great book to read for those of you who are writing well but who could be writing even better. Maass used to be a literary agent, so he’s read a ton of manuscripts, and he takes you through, step by step, what it takes to write a novel that breaks out from the pack. Really helpful advice from beginning to end.
3. Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction, by Benjamin Percy
This is the newest craft book on this list, published just in 2017, and let me tell you, it will blow you away. What Percy explores is the relationship between literary fiction and genre fiction and how the best of authors blend the two together to make for truly superior fiction. Percy’s imagination and wit are all over the book, and his many chapters on the craft of writing will inspire you for months to come.
4. Self Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King
This craft book is for those of you, like myself, who struggle in the self editing stage of writing a novel. I have no trouble any longer writing the first draft of a book, but what I continue to have difficulty with is revising and editing my work with a critical eye. This book shows you what you need to look for when you revise, and all the ways you can make your book monumentally better before you query it to a literary agent.
5. The Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
The oldest book on this list, and still a goodie. It’s super short, with no fluff or long passages worth skipping. Everything in this craft book is essential information, and what’s so great about it is that you can read through the whole thing in an hour or two! It’s one of those texts you should have at the corner of your desk so that you can flip through it from time to time. The Elements of Style is well worth a look if you’ve never picked it up before!