• Thomas Gaffney

My Favorite Writing Advice Books

Updated: Apr 28, 2021

I've been working on my craft almost as long as I've been writing. Before I started classes at SNHU, I tried to study on my own with the help of many books. These are a few that really helped my writing and stuck with me over the years.

Stephen King's On Writing. Naturally, I gravitate to everything the Master of Horror writes, so this was the first one I picked up. IT IS MASTERFUL. I was surprised, and pleased, to find that it's not a book on writing horror, but a guide to the craft of writing in general. Definitely one of the best writing books I've ever read, and a must-read for anyone who wants to become a better writer.

Betsy Lerner's The Forest for the Trees. This one was gifted to me but turned out to be amazing. Lerner is a former editor and current literary agent, and her advice on how to deal with going it alone as well as the nook and crannies on contracts, editors, agents, self-publishing should be MANDATORY for writers.

Lisa Cron's Story Genius. I'm a pantser at heart. That is… until I read this book. My only complaint about it is that I started the novel I'm working on before having read this. If you want to find that "third-rail" to your story and read charge your novel, READ THIS BOOK. My advice is to follow her steps as well and complete her in-book activities. I could see a lot more heart and subplot to my novel idea after following her suggestions, I just wish I hadn't written half of a draft first.

Nisi Shawl & Cynthia Ward's Writing The Other. If you're going to write about anyone from a different or marginalized community, YOU MUST OWN THIS BOOK. To be perfectly honest, I would recommend taking a Writing The Other online class centered around who your character is. For me, I took a class on writing Deaf and Blind characters for a book I was writing and a short story that I'm actually working on now. For each little piece of knowledge I patted myself on the back for getting right, I got so much WRONG. The book will certainly help you get things right, but I HIGHLY recommend one (or more) of their classes.

There are other books that I've read and would also recommend, James Scott Bell's Plot & Structure is one, and books that I haven't gotten around to reading yet, Tim Waggoner's Writing in the Dark for instance, that could end up on future versions of this list. But like writing and reading for enjoyment, everyone's mileage may vary. Some people might not gain anything from the books here. And others might have other titles that they found beneficial. If there are any I might have missed, drop them in the comments below! If you've read any of these (or do read any) and found them to be helpful, let me know that too!

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