One of the ironies of writing is that we tend to read other writers’ guides on how to write. And we should, because there are some really good writing guides out there. It’s important to have guides on hand to grammar and punctuation, guides that help us figure out infrastructure, and tips that we can implement in our own writing to take our games to the next level. And then there are inspirational writing guides that can make you feel warm and fuzzy after you’ve had writing issues.
So here are a few of my suggestions.
For mystery writers, check out Chris Roerden‘s Don’t Murder Your Mystery (that link will also show you another of her great guides, Don’t Sabotage Your Submission). The tips in that book you can use for other genres, as well.
Looking to write more descriptively? Try Rebecca McClanahan‘s Word Painting. It includes instruction and exercises, as well as examples from the masters, classic and contemporary.
Stephen King’s On Writing. It’s already on its 10th anniversary. Part memoir, part guide, this handy toolkit will address just about everything you need in your bag o’ writing tricks. The fundamentals, my friends. Plus, it’s a warm, intimate look at King’s early life and how he himself approaches writing. But don’t just listen to me. Go check out the link.
Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones (originally published in 1986, but it was updated in 2005). This is sort of a “Zen and the art of liberating your inner writer” kinda book. Might not be everyone’s style, but it’s a different approach and delves into creativity and its potential spiritual elements.
Strunk and White, The Elements of Style. It does not matter that this book first started life as an in-house writing guide for college students in 1918 by Cornell’s William Strunk. Nor does it matter that this pup got new life in 1959 when E.B. White revised Strunk’s 1935 edition. It’s freakin’ timeless, this book, and addresses things like the most misspelled words, common word usage errors, and proper punctuation. The book does have its critics, but it’s a nice brick to have in your writing framework.
Also get on over to Keith Cronin‘s recent blog over at Writer Unboxed to see his list of suggestions for writing guides. We overlap in a couple of places, but that’s okay. I like his list and I’m going to take his suggestions on a couple of things.
And here’s a list by Jon Winokur over at HuffPo (from 2010, but that’s quite okay).
Hopefully, that’ll get you started. Happy reading, happy writing!