best writing books

Beginning writing students come to me with starts in their eyes. They want to be writers and are ready to work on craft and concept. They have this dream of going to their local bookstore and seeing their book on the shelves and that everyone is going to buy it.

I have the same dream, too. I get it.

But so much about being a writer has nothing to do with the big dream and everything to do will being stubborn.

I’ve been relearning that lesson for the past couple of weeks lately. Being diligent with your writing is something that every writer and those who study and teach writing tell everyone else. We also try to practice that, though sometimes it’s easier said than done.

However, another thing writers have to be diligent in is reviewing lessons learned. For me, there are four books with so many enough lessons about the craft, I have to continue reviewing them. So, here are my four favorites.

The Elements of Style

It’s one of my favorites and it’s one of two books that I read right before I start revising or editing. It’s not just your regular grammar book, it talks about style. How should your sentences look like? What about usage? What is active voice vs passive voice? All these questions are things that should be asked of your writing in the revision process and this book reminds me of that.

On Writing Well

This book is a complement for The Elements of Style. This book concentrates more on non-fiction, however, most of the suggestions can be used in fiction writing. On Writing Well gives you thoughts on how to approach characters and place. It also hammers the point of clarity and simplicity in sentence, paragraph, and chapter structure. It’s one of my favorites and I can’t imagine going into the revision process on any project, fiction or nonfiction, without it

On Writing

This book just happens to make it on everyone’s list of how-to writing books. There’s a reason for that–it’s that good. Part memoir, part how-to, Stephen King breaks it down the craft of writing in a way few people do or can’t. My favorite is the second half of the book when he gets down to business.

From Where You Dream

What this isn’t on people’s list I will never understand. This book is less about craft and more about creativity. Robert Olen Butler is a creative writing teacher at Florida International University, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and just a general all around great writer. This book talks about creativity and being a vessel for your writing. I recommend reading this book along side one of your favorite books, it’s opens up your perspective.