Some of my links are affiliate links for things I love. They help me keep this blog up and running, with no extra cost to anything you decide to purchase. If you find anything you like, thank you for supporting our community!
Learning from experts is one of the temptations to get a creative writing degree. Although you can have a great experience doing that, it’s not your only option to study your craft! Check out these books you should read if you want to learn from people who know what they’re doing and write better stories.
1. The Writer’s Guide to Vivid Scenes and Characters
Many writers feel tripped up when they have to start a new scene. It can feel complicated and messy, so S.A. Soule breaks the process down for you in her book, The Writer’s Guide to Vivid Scenes and Characters. She can teach you to write more vivid characters and bring scenes to life that become movies in your readers’ minds. Check out the quick read to expand your skill set.
2. Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly
People know Gail Carson Lavine as one of the leading voices in fairy tales and fantasy. She uses her book, Writing Magic, to break down how she approaches character creation, dialogue, ending stories, and more. There’s also some great advice on how to learn from constructive criticism, which might be one of the hardest things writers ever learn.
3. Bird by Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life
My college professors revered Anne Lamott. Her book, Bird by Bird, was assigned in numerous courses throughout my educational experience. It features helpful, humorous advice that tackles common writing fears. It’s also encouraging in more ways than one. The perspective I walked away with after reading this book made me think of my writing ability as more of a gift than a hobby.
4. Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century
Any professional industry changes constantly. The publishing world is no different, but you can still learn a lot from John B. Thompson’s Merchants of Culture. You’ll finally understand the various pressures influencing publishers, editors, and agents into making decisions like who they publish and when. Plus, you’ll get a comprehensive understanding of the industry’s history to better picture its future.
5. Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them
Every time you pick up a book (of any genre!), it’s a chance to study while being entertained. Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer teaches you how to do just that. Instead of paying professors to break things down for you over the course of four years, Prose walks you through the same information for less than a meal at a restaurant. Learn from those who walked the publishing path before you to write like the literary experts you admire.
Read These Books to Write Better Stories
Whether you’re brand new to creative writing or a long-time writer, these are a few books you should read if you want to hone your skills. They’ll fill you in on what it takes to be an incredible author without tuition fees.