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Book on Writing I Wish I’d Had Ten Years Ago

Updated: Feb 27, 2019

*Manuscript Makover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore* by Elizabeth Lyon

My new favorite book-on-writing.  Really, the name says it all.  I’d actually recommend practicing some of the suggestions under the ‘Style’ section in the pre-writing or early daft stage, rather than waiting for semi-final and final draft stage.


*A Writer’s Guide to Fiction* by Elizabeth Lyon

Just a good, solid work on the craft.  I now use her ‘Discovering Your Characters From the Inside Out’ worksheet for all major, and even some minor, characters in the early planning stage of everything I attempt.  It’s golden!


*Writing the Breakout Novel* by Donald Maass (and its associated workbook)

Blew me away.   Tremndous insights into structure and plotting.  Trust me, you don’t want to pass this one by.


*Steering the Craft* by Ursula K. Le Guin

Try the exercises.  They really do work.  Your writing will be better for it.


A couple of rec’s that, while aren’t on the earth-shattering level of the above books, I found quite useful:


*Zen in the Art of Writing* by Ray Bradbury

Actually, this one I did have ten years ago, but I keep coming back to it.  Inspiring, and some good suggestions, as well.  Pay attention to the one about reading poetry to improve style.   Lyon suggests this, as well.


*Getting Into Character:  Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors* by Brandilyn Collins

Actually, I found this at least as helpful in fine-tuning pacing and rhythm as in building characters.


*Starting From Scratch: A Different Kind of Writer’s Manual* by Rita Mae Brown

Chatty, opinionated, fun, and usually available really cheap used on Amazon.    The section on language choice as it pertains to character is worth at least ten times what you’ll pay for the book.


Two books on the business end of things you’ll want to read when you think you’re ready to start marketing:


*The Sell Your Novel Tool Kit* by Elizabeth Lyon

*The Career Novelist* by Donald Maass


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