Resources for Writers
Recommended Books on Writing
We’re often asked by writers to recommend books on writing , so here are our best buys, all tried and tested, and all recommended by the authors we work with.
EVERY published writer I know has Stephen King’s On Writing on their bookshelf – and when you read it, you will understand what the industry means when we talk about ‘voice’. It’s hard to explain, but just as everyone has a different speaking voice, or singers sounds different on the radio, writers each have a different writing voice – and this is what publishers are looking for – a new and original voice.
When you’ve finished reading On Writing you will feel like you know Stephen King personally – THAT is voice.
Here’s the blurb:
Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in the vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999 – and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery.
There is a reason why Stephen King is one of the bestselling writers in the world, ever. Described in the Guardian as ‘the most remarkable storyteller in modern American literature’, Stephen King writes books that draw you in and are impossible to put down.
The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr and EB White
This is The Elements of Style, the classic style manual, now in a fourth edition. A new Foreword by Roger Angell reminds readers that the advice of Strunk & White is as valuable today as when it was first offered.This book’s unique tone, wit and charm have conveyed the principles of English style to millions of readers. Use the fourth edition of “the little book” to make a big impact with writing.
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”
“Superb writing advice… hilarious, helpful and provocative.” — “New York Times Book Review.”
“A warm, generous and hilarious guide through the writer’s world and its treacherous swamps.” — “Los Angeles Times.”
“A gift to all of us mortals who write or ever wanted to write… sidesplittingly funny, patiently wise and alternately cranky and kind — a reveille to get off our duffs and start writing “now,” while we still can.” — “Seattle Times.”
Story by Robert McKee
Structure is Character. Characters are what they do. Story events impact the characters and the characters impact events. Actions and reactions create revelation and insight, opening the door to a meaningful emotional experience for the audience. Story is what elevates a film, a novel, a play, or teleplay, transforming a good work into a great one. Movie-making in particular is a collaborative endeavour – requiring great skill and talent by the entire cast, crew and creative team – but the screenwriter is the only original artist on a film. Everyone else – the actors, directors, cameramen, production designers, editors, special effects wizards and so on – are interpretive artists, trying to bring alive the world, the events and the characters that the writer has invented and created. Robert McKee’s STORY is a comprehensive and superbly organized exploration of all elements, from the basics to advanced concepts. It is a practical course, presenting new perspectives on the craft of storytelling, not just for the screenwriter but for the novelist, playwright, journalist and non-fiction writers of all types.
Becoming a Writer by Dorethea Brande
Describes a writer’s temperament and how to develop a writer’s habits, originality, and insight, imitate exemplary works, read critically, and overcome writing difficulties. This guide to becoming a writer was originally published in 1934. It focuses not just on plotting techniques or prose style, but on the process of developing the habits and discipline of a writer, with beating writer’s block, reading to improve one’s writing and other psychological techniques.
Refreshingly slim, beautifully written and deliciously elegant, Dorothea Brande’s BECOMING A WRITER remains evergreen decades after it was first written. Brande believed passionately that although people have varying amounts of talent, anyone can write. It’s just a question of finding the “writer’s magic” – a degree of which is in us all. She also insists that writing can be both taught and learned. So she is enraged by the pessimistic authors of so many writing books who rejoice in trying to put off the aspiring writer by constantly stressing how difficult it all is.
With close reference to the great writers of her day – Wolfe, Forster, Wharton and so on – Brande gives practical but inspirational advice about finding the right time of day to write and being very self disciplined about it – “You have decided to write at four o’clock, and at four o’clock you must write.” She’s strong on confidence building and there’s a lot about cheating your unconscious which will constantly try to stop you writing by coming up with excuses. Then there are exercises to help you get into the right frame of mind and to build up writing stamina.
Creative Writing Course Book: Forty Authors Share Advice and Exercises for Fiction and Poetry
The success of the writing courses at UEA belies the myth that writing can’t be taught. This coursebook takes aspiring writers through three stages of practice: Gathering – getting started, learning how to keep notes, making observations and using memory; Shaping – looking at structure, point of view, character and setting; and Finishing – being your own critic, joining workshops, finding publishers.
Throughout exercises and activities encourage writers to develop their skills. Contributions from forty authors provide a unique and generous pool of information, experience and advice.This is the perfect book for people who are just starting to write as well as for those who want some help honing work already completed. It will suit people writing for publication or just for their own pleasure, those writing on their own or writing groups.