In my office, an entire bookcase is dedicated to books on writing. While you can’t learn writing just by reading a book about it, there are books that can help you plot your novel, create believable characters, revise your manuscript, and improve your writing skills.
Since there are so many books on how to write a novel out there, it’s hard to know which ones to read. Maybe my list of personal favorites will help.
BOOKS ABOUT WRITING IN GENERAL:
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King
Despite the title, this book doesn’t cover just self-editing; it covers all aspects of writing. I really recommend it for a basic understanding of concepts such as show and tell, point of view, and dialogue mechanics.
Stein on Writing by Sol Stein
Sol Stein’s books is a classic—and for a good reason. Stein was a well-respected editor and novelist. His book addresses both writing fiction and writing nonfiction and includes a great chapter on writing dialogue.
On Writing by Stephen King
This is both a memoir and a book on writing. Read it even if you are not a fan of Stephen King.
BOOKS ON CREATING BELIEVABLE CHARACTERS AND POINT OF VIEW:
Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint by Nancy Kress
This is a part of the Writers’ Digest Elements of Fiction series that also includes other excellent books. It covers developing three-dimensional characters and also point of view.
The Power of Point of View by Alicia Rasley
One of few books that deals with point of view in fiction. The author, Alicia Rasley, is an editor who also has a blog that I recommend.
BOOKS ON PLOT AND PLOTTING:
Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell
James Scott Bell explains story structure and how to develop strong openings, middles, and ends.
Rock Your Plot: A Simple System for Plotting Your Novel by Cathy Yardley
Ms. Yardly’s book will help you plot the turning points of your novel, create a scene-by-scene outline, and get to know your characters better.
Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success by K.M. Weiland
This to-the-point book explains the benefits of outlining and gives you pointers on how to brainstorm and outline your novel.
BOOKS ON GRAMMAR, SPELLING, AND STYLE:
Woe Is I by Patricia T. O’Conner
Well written and fun. Who knew there was such a thing as grammar book that makes you laugh!
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition)
This is the dictionary I use. There’s also an online version.
The Synonym Finder by J.I. Rodale
This very expansive volume will help you out whenever you’re in need of a synonym.
The Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
The style guide that most companies publishing fiction use. Make sure you (and your editor) are familiar with it.
There are many more helpful books on writing, but these are the ones I use most often.
If you can recommend other helpful books on writing, please leave a comment.