recommended reading

Dear Writer,

 

There are so many books on writing out there these days that it’s hard to know which ones to choose. Here is a list of my favorites. 

 

Each book is different, and some focus on art while others focus on craft. They include great reference material, exercises, career advice, and inspirational words. Many are written from a place of vulnerability, which always resonates with me. 

 

Although some of these books have come into my life recently, others I read fifteen years ago and now sit on my shelf in a place of honor. I have found all of them to be helpful to me on my personal writing journey. 

 

The links below are affiliate links, which means that if you decide one of these books is for you and then further decide to use the link to purchase it, I will get a teeny tiny part of the proceeds at no additional cost to you. 

 

Enjoy, and I’d love to hear what you think!

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The Lie That Tells a Truth by John Dufresne

This was my first writing book love. I think about it, and I’m immediately transported to the metal tables outside Starbucks where I went as a teenager to read, write, and escape my crazy family. This book is all about using fiction to express truths about the world. It guides you in turning personal experiences into stories with lives of their own. It’s full of exercises, many of which the author does himself, and the result is that it’s a very personal experience both to read and to do.

On Writing by Stephen King

This book is half memoir, half writing advice, and its one of the most inspiring writing books I’ve read. It’ll give you a good ass-kicking, but it also brings you inside the struggles and failures of one of the most prolific and successful authors out there. 

Consider This by Chuck Palahniuk

Here's another book on writing that's half writing tips, half memoir. I'd say it's aimed more at writers who are already writing and comfortable with the basics, rather than at beginners. Regardless, it's a fun read and full of little things you probably haven't thought of and likely haven't read elsewhere. You can read my blog post on it here

Gotham Writers' Workshop: Writing Fiction

I was surprised by this book, which I genuinely enjoyed and recommend as a solid starting place for anyone who is looking to learn about the craft of writing fiction. It uses excellent examples, and each point is illustrated in such a way that seemingly esoteric concepts become clear and concrete. Each chapter includes several practice exercises, but be warned, they tend to be work-intensive.

The 90-Day Screenplay by Alan Watt

Although I didn’t use it to write a screenplay in ninety days, I do love this book, and I’ve come back to it time and again for exercise ideas for my weekly screenwriting group. It is much more hands-on than most of the books I’ve read on the craft, and it provides a very legitimate process for writing a screenplay. Beginner-friendly but with content for everyone.

The Coffee Break Screenwriter by Pilar Alessandra

The premise of this book is that, regardless of how busy you might be, you have the time to write a screenplay. Pilar’s exercises are bite-size and encourage you to look at your developing screenplay from many different angles. This might be the most hands-on of the screenwriting books I’ve read and has some of the most creative exercises. It’s great for beginners, but I’d recommend it to anyone who’s looking for new ways to approach a project. This is a book I come to back frequently.