6 Great Books for Fiction Writers
What Can Books Teach You About Writing?
Whether writing can really be 'taught' or not, there are definitely plenty of writing-related skills which can be taught, ranging from creativity tricks to cramming as much writing time as possible into a single day.
Here's five great books which will help fiction writers read better, plot better, write better (and faster!), and edit better.
Good writers enjoy good books. Great writers know how to find all the best details in books. Reading Like a Writer focuses on reading to find all those details which make a book great, in order to better work such details into your own writing.
Tarot is frequently portrayed as being used for nothing more than seeing the future – which has given it a bit of a bad reputation among people who disbelieve in fortune-telling entirely or think any such things involve evil spirits – but Tarot can have many other uses. Tarot for Writers uses it as a creativity deck, useful for developing characters or outlining plots. It's a logical use: The Major Arcana follows the Fool's Journey, the Court Cards perfectly represent a wide variety of personality types, and even the pips can bring up some interesting turning points. Tarot for Writers includes several spreads useful for story development, enough information on the individual cards to help even someone who's never read them before, and plenty of useful writing prompts.
Tarot Basics for Non-Tarot-Readers
- Learning the Tarot
A free online course for learning tarot. Excellent if you want to get a more thorough understanding of the cards than what Tarot for Writers provides.
- How to Read Tarot with Playing Cards
A useful hub about applying tarot card meanings to ordinary playing cards, if you don't want to buy a whole tarot deck just for writing ideas.
- Aeclectic Tarot Deck Reviews
On the other side, there are literally thousands of different styles of tarot decks, including some which are great for varying writing genres. Poke around here and see if you can find anything which will bring extra inspiration to your writing.
Written for those working through National Novel Writing Month, NP?NP! includes a brief history of NaNoWriMo, some quick-start novel-writing advice, and a week-by-week game plan to keep you going throughout the month. Any resulting novel isn't likely to be the greatest thing since Hemingway, but it will help you get a novel out of your head and into your word processor in a month. How many would-be novelists simply plan to write a novel 'someday', or give up halfway through because they spend too much time listening to their inner editor? NP?NP! encourages us to write the novel, write it now, and worry about making it good later.
Want to Know More About Writing a Novel in a Month?
- National Novel Writing Month
The original NaNoWriMo website, dedicated to writing a fifty thousand word novel in November.
- NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program
For the younger writers, with shorter goals and teacher's resources.
- Camp NaNoWriMo
A summer version of NaNoWriMo, for those who have other plans in November or simply want to do an extra novel.
So you've decided to write a novel in a month. Or to just write a novel, period. Now… how do you cram in enough writing time for it? 'The Productive Writer' is a writer-specific time management book. This book will help with everything from finding time to write to setting goals for your query letters.
The recommendation made by Chris Baty in NP?NP! is to grab a book you like and flip through it every time you just need to know something relating to writing style, such as whether or not to italicise internal monologue. While this may be more fun than a standard grammar book, it's not always the most efficient way to do things, especially if you don't have relevant passages memorised and their pages at hand. A well-organised style book might be dry reading, but you'll find what you need more quickly. The Elements of Style is a classic, organised enough to be easy to find what you need but short enough to read the whole thing as a quick brush-up before starting a new writing project.
Other Grammar & Style Resources
- The Elements of Style
The original Elements of Style is now in the public domain and available free on multiple sites. It's missing everything later added by E.B. White, but it's still a good resource.
- Grammar Girl
Grammar Girl has tips and grammar exercises to help you learn and remember all the grammar rules on punctuation, word choice, and more.
This one's for when your novel is finished and you need to turn the first draft into a great novel. Manuscript Makeover shows how to perfect your story and make it stand out from other novels. With advice on everything from overall style to individual characters, this is a great book for when the actual writing is over and you need to move on to editing.