Must-Have Books on Writing

Most writers can’t go past a book on writing, and I’m one of them. The following list of my favourites includes books I dip into often, have highlighted heavily, or were recommended to me by publishing professionals I admire. I’ve included links to my reviews on Goodreads or here on Alphabet Soup.


The Elements of Story: Field Notes on Nonfiction Writing by Francis Flaherty

Story: Substance, Structure, Style and Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee (While this book is for screenwriters, there is plenty book writers can learn)

The Writer’s Portable Mentor: A Guide to Art, Craft, and the Writing Life by Priscilla Long

Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch: Let Verbs Power Your Writing by Constance Hale

Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel by Lisa Cron

Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft by Janet Burroway (Used in many university-level creative writing courses)

How to Read like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them by Francine Prose (Offers examples of aspects of writing, like voice and point of view. Includes a stimulating reading list at the end.)


Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert [* Read my review here.]

The Artist’s Way: A Course in Discovering Your Creative Self by Julia Cameron [* Read my review here.]

The War of Art: Break Through Your Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Stephen Pressfield [* Read my review here.]

Editing & Publishing

The Artful Edit: On the Practice of Editing Yourself by Susan Bell

Publishing 101 by Jane Friedman

Successful Self-Publishing: How to Self-Publish and Market Your Book in e-Book and Print by Joanna Penn

Looking After Your Writer-Self

The Successful Author Mindset: A Handbook for Surviving the Writer’s Journey by Joanna Penn

The Pursuit of Perfection: And How it Harms Writers by Kristine Rusch

Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write with Confidence by William Kenower

The Healthy Writer: Reduce Your Pain, Improve Your Health, and Build a Writing Career for the Long Term by Joanna Penn

Writing Kidlit

Writing Irresistible Kidlit by Mary Kole [* Read my review here.]

Writing Great Books for Young Adults: Everything You Need to Know, from Crafting the Idea to Landing a Publishing Deal by Regina Brooks

Inspirational Author Biographies

On Writing: A Memoir of Craft by Stephen King [* Read my review here.]

Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White by Melissa Sweet

Over to You

Have I missed any? I’d love to hear from you if I’ve missed a goodie. Please leave a comment so I can look it up.

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