by Matt Huston
List Updated for 2022 with Updated Recommendations
If you’re like most beginning writers, chances are you’re looking to improve your craft. Like most everything else, practice is essential to becoming a better writer. Therefore, it’s important to write as much as possible. But it’s also vital to learn how to write well. The following five books are great resources for any beginner writer. They’ll not only motivate you to write more, but they’ll also show you how to write better.
Lifelong Writing Habit: The Secret to Writing Every Day: Write Faster, Write Smarter by Chris Fox
Coming in at around 100 pages, this book is a quick and easy read. But don’t let the shortness of it fool you. It’s full of tips and tricks to motivate you to write every single day. It also teaches you how to get organized, how to set and accomplish writing goals, and how to adopt writing habits that will last. There are also great writing exercises at the end, which are very helpful. It’s not difficult to blow through this entire book in a weekend, or maybe even in a single day. It’s a quick read, packed with valuable, easy to understand information.
Where Do You Get Your Ideas?: A Writer’s Guide to Transforming Notions into Narratives by Fred White
Once you develop good writing habits and gather at least a few tools to improve your writing, the next step is getting ideas for writing. If you struggle coming up with ideas for storylines, then this book is for you. Fred White’s writing style is very laid back and easy to understand. He’s packed tons of great advice about where and how to find great story ideas. He shows how to begin with a premise and then develop that idea all the way to a full-blown storyline. There are also 75 potential ideas included in the book, which will help you get started with your own creativity.
How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson
There are generally two types of writers, those who sit down and write by the seat of their pants (called “pantsers”) and those who plan ahead of time (called “planners,” of course). If you’re a “planner” or think you want to be, then this book might be perfect for you. It’s a really fun read, and it goes into step-by-step detail about how to plan your story from beginning to end. It helps keep everything organized and identifies plot holes before they become a major problem. This book, and the Snowflake Method, is even helpful for “pantsers” on a second or third rewrite of a story because it forces writers to look at their story in a different, less personal way, which is essential during the rewriting process.
Story Engineering by Larry Brooks
This book is written for “planners” and has tons of great information for new writers. It’s all about how to plan out and structure a story. Just as a warning, the writer, Larry Brooks, tends to belabor getting to his points, and that can be slightly irritating. But once he does get around to it, all his points are crucial and useful. If you want to be able to plan your book, but the mere thought of sitting down and planning it stresses you out, then this book is definitely for you. Brooks removes the stress of planning by providing detailed, priceless information that will undoubtedly improve any writers craft.
On Writing: A Memoir of The Craft by Stephen King
There’s a decent percentage of writers who consider this to be the best writing book ever written. The first part of the book centers on King’s life – his childhood and his journey to becoming one of the most famous authors in the world. His story is both inspirational and motivational. The second part of the book is full of invaluable writing advice. King covers everything from how to write a solid sentence to how to write a bestselling novel, and he does it all without coming off preachy. He even includes a painless and educational section on grammar. Regardless of how you might feel about King’s works, this book is a must-read for all writers at every level.
If you’re serious about being a writer, then it’s time to get serious about your writing. You need to write as much as possible, and you also need to learn about the craft of writing. The five books above will motivate you to write more while giving you the tools to write better. Each of the books are unique, but they all have one thing in common: They’ll most certainly make you a better writer.