Last week I took a look at 10 amazing craft books (list one here and list two here) that have inspired my writing considerably. Today, I wanted to look at even five more I adore and think you should definitely take a look at!
1. Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott
This is one of the most famous craft books on writing, and there’s a clear reason why: Anne Lamott gives you some practical writing tips at the same time she’s delivering a wealth of inspiration. Bird by Bird is short enough that you can read it in full on a rainy afternoon, but it has so many great ideas that you’ll be thinking about it for weeks and weeks afterward. If you haven’t checked this one out yet, do yourself a favor and find yourself a copy!
2. The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers, by John Gardner
This craft book on writing is a bit more dense than some of the other books I’ve recommended, and it’s one that you can’t just breeze through in an afternoon by any means. I would suggest that this particular book is more for the dedicated novelist who wants to slowly read through a sometimes complicated but overall worthwhile text that gives tons of great tips on how to write a novel, and how to write it well.
3. Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting, by Syd Field
This craft book is more geared toward screenwriters — obviously — but I tell you, I’ve now read through this book twice, and I even taught a screenwriting class last fall using this textbook, and I truly believe this book is helpful to any writer of narrative. Whether you’re writing a full-length script or a novel, a short film screenplay or a work of short fiction, Field breaks down the very nature of story in this book to such a great degree that there’s so much to get out of every chapter.
4. Writing the Thriller, by T. Macdonald Skillman
Writing the Thriller is a craft book about the art of writing a novel in the thriller / suspense genre. The book is split into sixteen sections, which include important topics like Point of View, Setting and Atmosphere, Dialogue, Pacing, and Theme. This book is helpful in the writing process even if the novel you’re attempting isn’t a part of the suspense genre. Writing the Thriller is reader friendly, with most of the chapters focusing on key ingredients that, when mastered, make any kind of book better.
5. Danse Macabre, by Stephen King
Danse Macabre is a craft book about the field of everything horror, focusing on the history of the genre in a variety of mediums, for the most part between the years 1950 and 1980. It’s not as intensely focused on the art of writing like King’s brilliant 2000 craft book On Writing, but for anyone with even the slightest interest in the horror genre, Danse Macabre is a fascinating and necessary text that should be on your bookshelf. Most of the chapters are filled with helpful tips and wise observations that will give any reader a greater appreciation of the horror field, and I can’t wait to read it again!