As Stephen King writes, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
Writing Technique and Style
- William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White’s The Elements of Style – The first rule of being a writer: master the English language. Sure, there are some deviant authors who can break the rules–Cormac McCarthy doesn’t use quotation marks and Dashiell Hammett changes nouns into quirky verbs–but they understood the rules. You can’t break anything unless you know what’s to be broken. The Elements of Style teaches proper English grammar to readers, right down to the last period.
- Renni Brown and Dave King’s Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print – Though this book doesn’t guarantee getting into print (if you’re already a self-published author, you’ve got that down), this book has useful pointers for improving your writing technique.
- Caroline Sharp’s A Writer’s Workbook: Daily Exercises for the Writing Life – If you are looking for a writing exercise book outside of your high school English textbooks, this book is a good start. Sharp’s writing background helps carries you through exercises to generate and write well-formed stories.
- Jane Straus’s The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation – Looking to improve your grammar without taking an expensive English class? Pick up this book. It has useful lessons and exercises for everyone. If you’re really looking for an interactive and immediate test of your English grammar, try The Blue Book‘s free online grammar quizzes.
Advice from Experienced and Successful Authors
- Stephen King’s On Writing–Many authors and critics quote King’s book (an example on Writer’s Digest). It’s a must-read book in the writing community. From King’s childhood to his adulthood as an English teacher and a famous writer later with all of the adversities in between, On Writing shows how even well-known writers are human.
- Haunted Computer Book’s Write Good or Die–Need advice from successful and obscure writers? This book holds dozens of writers who voice their thoughts about becoming a writer.
- Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running–This book is an invaluable read for writers looking for a glimpse into the world-renowned magical realist’s brain. His writings on short stories are especially important for short-story writers.
- George Orwell’s Why I Write–The Animal Farm and 1984 writer writes about his life as an Englishman, and his writing style and reasons for writing.