Every person who has made up their mind on becoming a writer realizes that – just as with any other occupation – there are a lot of catches and tiny things to be aware of. Therefore, they seek advice from the more renowned and established authors on how to create a great piece. Also how to unleash the inner writer, how to avoid writer’s block, etc. The best way to look for such advice is, obviously, just to google it. True, there are a lot of articles on the topic to be found all over the Internet. But while many of such articles are relevant and comprehensive, it is quite naive to assume that such a massive topic can be covered by just one or two articles – regardless of how well-written and to-the-point they may be.
If you want some substantial and complete recommendations, then you need something more than just a few articles. So, today we are bringing you 7 book for young and aspiring authors to read (in no particular order) to improve your writing skills. Mind that this article may contain spoilers to some of the mentioned titles.
- Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande
First published in 1934, this book has aged well. It dives into every aspect of the creative process and recaptures the atmosphere of creative writing classes. From some of the best professors that the author herself had taken back in the 1920s. Book speculates on the very process of writing and the writer’s attitude towards their work, investigating what it takes to become a writer.
It is not a technical manual. But it’s rather a guide from a friendly tutor figure that is willing to explain how to be an author, how to discipline oneself to always get the work done, etc.
Dorothea Brande believes that everybody is born with a certain amount of talent, and it only takes some effort and determination to develop it, if you really want to become a writer.
- On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft by Stephen King
This autobiography / masterclass was published in 2000, just one year after the author’s near-death experience. The book is brilliantly structured and flows smoothly from the author’s personal experiences to how they influence his writing. One of the world’s most celebrated writers of today.He uses his own example to give you a masterclass on how deeply personal issues can be dealt with by means of writing, and help you to share what you have to say in a way that the world will listen.
Apart from that, King investigates how his devotion to writing helped him to overcome his near-death experience, which makes this work also a great source of inspiration.
- Runaway by Alice Munro
This pick is actually not a manual or a guide, but a fiction. First published in 2004, this book was awarded the Giller Prize that year.
This is a slow-paced prose. It flows simply and quietly, but one cannot but notice the enormous attention that the author has for the detail. This makes the book a true finding for an author who struggles to get and idea for a story. Illustrating how a single brief glance at something you see every day can give rise to an engaging story. This book can be viewed as a workshop on how to squeeze a good read from the most mundane things. Once you learn how the smallest and least noticeable detail can be immortalized in writing, you will inevitably feel guided on how to have your own masterpiece done.
- Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey
Creative people are known to have some foibles. Sometimes writers reflect upon themselves and their peculiar habits, and ask themselves: “Is everything alright with me? Am I becoming some kind of a weirdo?” Not exactly a great thought for an artist to think.
In this book, Mason Currey collect the daily habits and quirks from 161 recognized writers. As well as some comments upon how these rituals were supposed to aid them in their creative process. After you read about someone who stands on their head for an hour or so and assures that it helps to overcome their writer’s block, your own peculiarities don’t seem so out-of-line anymore. In fact, your habits become quite innocent, if not mundane.
- On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser
Despite the title, this book is well worth reading even if you are a fiction writer. It gives you an insight into the mechanics of the language. The advice is always sound, to-the-point, and conveyed in a warm and friendly tone.
Though the book was originally published in 1976, it stands the test of time well. It can be found useful by writers of all kinds: fiction and non-fiction, journalists and bloggers, even students who work on their school essays, or someone who has to write emails in their job.
Besides, William Zissner’s own writing is easy and inspiring – the kind of narration you might want to consider integrating into your own writing.
- As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Another piece of fiction on this list. This seminal work by the celebrated Nobel Prize winner William Faulkner shudders the conventions of the writing of its time. It was originally published in 1930. The story of a poor family in a small town in the South on a quest to arrange their matriarch’s burial.
Not only is the story being told from not one, not two, but 15 different points of view. All these points of view look nothing like how a normal writer would write them down. They are as if they come directly from the character’s mind. A stream of consciousness was not a widely used technique at the time, let alone applying it to 15 different characters in one book.
William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying is your perfect example of breaking the rules done right.
- Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass
Suppose you have a good story already, but now you want it to get published and become a hit. This is the perfect guide on how to shape your story into a bestseller. Donald Maass is not only a successful novelist but also a top publishing agent. He is willing to share some insightful advice on how to get your writings skyrocketing to the tops of the charts.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.