Welcome to Writers’ Uni-Verse-City (or WUVC for short because every university has an acronym), a place where writers/bloggers can meet to discuss the craft of writing in the Internet age. I  want to learn what it takes to make it in the world of writing and publishing and nowadays there is a wealth of information on the web. WUVC will involve independent research, setting a curriculum and hopefully finding other participants (like you – readers/bloggers/writers) to: chip in, give tips, suggest books and other materials for study, teach me the ways of the warrior writer, and offer to guest post here at Uni-Verse-City (contact: annotationseditorial@gmail.com).

So I think I need more official self-determined course material for Writers’ Uni-Verse-City. I have been picking up a craft book every now and then usually based on the buzz I’ve seen about it on the web. Hey, its a great way to pick books. So now that I’ve finished reading Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell, which I’m currently reviewing, it will soon be time to crack open another one.

So on my going-to-be-read/studied list so far is:

  • Brooks, Larry – Story Engineering
  • King, Stephen – On Writing
  • Maas, Donald – Writing the Breakout Novel
  • Rozelle, Ron – Description and Setting

I’m considering a number of books and I don’t know which ones to read or which to read first. (Most of the following list is from James Scott Bell’s book, but I added some others as well). So if you want to, vote for your favorite, you can pick more than one:

Please note my already-read list (its sad I know because its so small, which is why I need your help):

Please fellow writers make any and all craft book recommendations you can in the comments or “vote” for one of the ones already in the lists above. I want to grow this list so large that it would be impossible to read the all. Well, it won’t be impossible because I will take on the challenge!

17 thoughts on “Books on the Craft of Writing: to-read list

  1. Awesome list. Will definitely have to check out some of these books! I’ve been thinking a lot lately about books on writing too. In fact, on Monday I posted my “Essentials” (i.e. the books on writing I can’t live without) and that list has totally different books. Isn’t it great that we writers have so many awesome resources to choose from? Thanks for a great post! Write On!

    1. I will have to check out your essentials too. And you’re so right about the writing community, I’m starting to think that there are many more books on writing than I ever knew existed!

  2. I’ve read Stein and King on writing. I think they were both good. If you had to only pick one, I would go with King though. A lot of his stuff is really basic, but if you take it in you should have a good foundation.

    1. Thanks Annalise. I think King’s book is on the top of the list for many writers. It seems to be one of the most popular/well-referred books. Looking forward to reading it, I just bought it a few days ago.

  3. I tried to vote for 3 but it only let me vote for 1. Instead I’ll just tell you…I’ve read Freys’ How to Write a Damn Good Novel 1 and it spoke to me…sounds corny, I know, but it made a lot of things clear to me. Highly recommend it. I’m currently reading Save the Cat and love his conversational tone. He’s very clear in his examples as well. Even though he’s writing for screenwriters, so much of it applies to novel writing, that it is definitely worth reading and trying his techniques. I have in my TBR stack Browne & King’s Self-editing for Fiction Writers. It looks in-depth, has exercises at the end of each chapter and cartoons illustrating some of the ideas. I’m looking forward to reading it.
    I’ve heard nothing but good things about James Scott Bell’s books, but haven’t picked one up yet. I’ve read Larry Brooks’ Story Engineering. Serious reading. But it has concepts that are useful and I ahve learned a few things from it.
    Good luck and Happy reading!

    1. Sorry about the voting troubles. I double checked it and I clicked on the “multiple options” button but for some reason it must not be working. I will add your recommendations to my reading list. Thank you

  4. I have only read stein on writing (from your list), which was OK. Having had a fab lecturere for creative writing, i gained a lot of useful knowledge, but, and this is going to sound real cheesy, the best place I leran things is from the writers blogging community – probably cos they have all read the books!

    1. Hmmm I like to hear that the best place you’ve learned things is from writers’ blogs. Its kind of a testimonial towards self-study, which I’m trying to do at the moment. A degree on creative writing is on the horizons though.

      1. Just a shame i hadnt learnt to spell learn ha!

        My Creative Writing part of my degree was by far the greatest thing I have ever done. I would reccomend it to anyone. Whether you are a writer or not, it teaches you so much about yourself, it truly is an exploration of your inner workings. But, and this is the big but, it is only for you if you give yourself to it…but I guess that is the same about any writing project. If you hold back, it shows.

  5. If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland. I just wrote a review about it on my blog. It’s not much of a how-to like other craft books, but it’s a great source of encouragement, especially on a day when you may be struggling. You might enjoy it! =)

    1. An encouraging book is always good to have on hand. Thanks for the recommendation Lissa.

  6. One of my Scrivener students recently asked for a list of my top craft books, so I wrote it down:
    TECHNIQUES OF THE SELLING WRITER by Dwight Swain
    — My one must have book. Everything in one package. There’s a more thorough review on my website.
    STORY STRUCTURE DEMYSTIFIED by Larry Brooks
    — Excellent, thorough coverage of story structure, whether you plot or not. More here.
    SAVE THE CAT! and SAVE THE CAT! GOES TO THE MOVIES by Blake Snyder
    — Story structure from a screen writer’s perspective, with examples to illustrate the concepts.
    GOAL, MOTIVATION, AND CONFLICT by Debra Dixon
    — Helps you create believable, consistent characters.
    PLOT & STRUCTURE by James Scott Bell
    — Another good book on understanding plot and story structure, brainstorming, choosing story ideas, and more.
    THE ART OF WAR FOR WRITERS by James Scott Bell
    — Motivation and advice in short bursts, based on Sun Tzu.
    WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL (WORKBOOK) by Donald Maass
    — Helps you write the unexpected, and strengthen your characters and storyline.

    I’ve read many more, and gleaned something from almost all of them, but these are the ones I’d recommend to anyone just starting to build their library. Have also heard good things about ON WRITING by Stephen King, and am currently enjoying YOUR WRITING COACH by Jurgen Wolff.

    1. Thanks so much Gwen. Luckily a few of these are already coming into my library. I will add the others to my list. Thanks for the recommendations.

  7. The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogel
    Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus by John Gray
    Heroes and Heroines Sixteen Master Archetypes by Tami Cowden, Caro LaFever, Sue Viders
    The Romance Writer’s Phrase Book by Jean Kent and Candace Shelton
    Dialogue by Nicholas Turco
    The Romance Writer’s Handbook by Rebecca Vinyard
    The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman
    The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr.
    Scene and Structure by Jack M. Bickman
    A Writer’s Time by Kenneth Atchity
    and my all-time fave…Write Tight by Willaim Brahough

    I plan to read Don Maas’ books and Stephen King’s On Writing this fall.

    Great post!! 🙂

    1. Whew! That’s a good list Jolyse. You’ve read A LOT. I like the sound of the “Men are from Mars…”. I remember picking up “Elements of Style” when I was in university and I remember putting it back down after chapter 1, I think it was. Maybe I will give it another go being a little more open minded now.

  8. Thanks for sharing this, and all those who have commented too! My reading list is growing immensely… yikes!

    1. Most of the list is from James Scott Bell’s reference list in his book PLot and Structure. But I also added some others I’ve seen referenced a lot.

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