Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I ♥ Craft Books

As you've gathered by now, I'm a sucker for "craft" books. In fact, during the party celebrating my becoming a U.S. citizen three years ago, my wife did a "How well do you know him?" quiz. One of the questions was about how many books on writing were on my shelves. The answer was something like 70. (One wag then retorted, "doesn't seem to be doing him much good, does it?") Good thing I have a sense of humor!

The other day, the list-serve for the SCBWI-Oregon writers was abuzz after a writer asked for Craft Book recommendations. Here is the complete list the writers came up with. (Bold means I've read them.)

Steering the Craft by Ursula LeGuin
Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg (audiobook especially recommended)
Zen and the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
The Muses Among Us, by Kim Stafford
The Art of Fiction, by John Gardner
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott
On Writing by Stephen King
Story by Robert McKee
On Writing Well by William Zinsser
The Writer's Book of Hope by Ralph Keyes
Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose
The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron (excellent when you're in the doldrums)
Writing the Breakout Novel, Donald Maass
Writing the Life Poetic, Sage Cohen
The Courage to Write and The Writers Book of Hope, by Ralph Keyes (excellent for uplifting discouraged writers)
Take Joy by Jane Yolen
Save the Cat by Blake Snyder (A screenwriting book)
From Where You Dream by Robert Olen Butler
Fiction First Aid by Randy Obstfeld
Description by Monica Wood
Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne & King (a hands-on craft book that teaches specific techniques)
Advanced Plotting, Chris Eboch (forthcoming)
The Scene Book: A Primer for the Fiction Writer, by Sandra Scofield
The Writer's Portable Mentor: A Guide to the Art, Craft and the Writing Life by Priscilla Long (If you do the exercises, it's a great writing class!)
Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life, by Natalie Goldberg
The 28 Biggest Writing Blunders (And How to Avoid Them) by William Noble
Creative Nonfiction by Philip Gerard
The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E. B. White
Unless it Moves the Human Heart: The Art and Craft of Writing by Roger Rosenblatt. (inspiring and practical.)
A Passion for Narrative: A Guide for Writing Fiction by Jack Hodgins.

Of Particular Interest for Kidlit Writers:
Writing with Pictures by Uri Shulevitz.
Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul.
Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon
The Writer's Guide to Crafting Stories for Children by Nancy Lamb
Spilling Ink by Ellen Potter and Ann Mazer (for young writers)
Creating Characters Kids Will Love by Elaine Alphin
Second Sight: An Editor's Talks on Writing, Revising & Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults by Cheryl B. Klein

Would you recommend any other craft books not on this list?


  1. I really need to read that Bradbury one. Combine Zen with Ray? How could it get any better?

  2. I have only read one book of this genre and it is not on your list, The Art of Fiction by David Lodge.

    He seems suitably qualified to write such a book.


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