As writers we are all generally avid readers too. I know I am constantly devouring books, new and old, in the genre I write in and off genre, fiction and non-fiction, etc. I am always looking for new words, new inspirations, new worlds to get lost in, or occasionally old friends to revisit.
Over the years I have also steadily built a collection of books that I consider to be resources as much as good reads. These are books on craft, trade, commerce and just plain good writing inspirations. They are my safety blanket and my map, keeping me warn when the keys are cold or helping me find my way out of the foggy places in my stories. I don’t have anywhere near a complete list of reference books, but I thought I would share my favorites here. They range from nuts and bolts ‘how to’ books, to memoirs and stories from authors, publisher, agents and editors each exploring their art and trade.
The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published by Eckstut & Sterry (Previously titled Putting your Passion into Print)
Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass
On Writing by Stephen King
Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
Selling your Story in Seconds by Michael Hauge
Making the Perfect Pitch by Katharine Sands
Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon
20 Master Plots, and How to Build Them by Ronald B. Tobias
Save the Cat, the Last Book on Screenwriting That You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder
Several Short Sentences About Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg
Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction by Card, Athans and Lake
Draw it with your Eyes Closed: The Art of the Art Assignment, Edited by Paper Monument
Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer by Peter Turchi
Why this list? It seems eclectic. Some of the books aren’t even about writing specifically. I believe we all need to build our own list of tools and resources. Sometimes that means including something unexpected. As you are developing your own list of resources you might find something wonderful and poignant and inspiring that would never show up in a writing class. Still, if it means something important to you don’t dismiss inspiration. Embrace it and unpack it and explore why it is inspiring.
For anyone who has published, or who has an MFA this probably seems like a short list. In reality it is. My stacks include a slew of dog eared favorite novels that I go back to just as often as these ‘reference’ books, and I have so many more to read and explore. Please tell me about your favorite references in the comments section below. Let’s share the books that keep us going as writers, help us through the rough patches and provide some good advice when we need it most.
Remember, it is all about writers helping writers.