10 books that will make you a better writer (and why)

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I love borrowing books. But there are some books that a writer really should have in their own personal for-keeps libraries. These are the books that you’ll keep coming back to, over and over, through your career.

Here are my top ten writing craft books. Some of them I’ve owned for twenty years or more. Some are new to me. Some are classics that you might already own. Maybe there are some that will be new to you.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King

“You want to draw your readers into the world you’ve created, make them feel a part of it, make them forget where they are. And you can’t do this effectively if you tell your readers about your world secondhand.”

In 2004, when I was eight months pregnant, I won Nanowrimo for the first time. I wrote a truly awful first draft of a romantic suspense story. Then I had a baby girl on December 8. I never looked back. Once I knew that I could finish writing a novel, I knew that I could learn how to write well.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers is the book that taught me how to be a better writer. I finished my first manuscript and took a solid year, going through this book, chapter by chapter, exercise by exercise, and applying what I learned to my work.

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

“I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.”

Ray Bradbury’s little book of essays about writing and creativity is an essential little pocket of inspiration. I’ve read it half a dozen times and every single time, I pick up something new. Because it’s a collection of essays, you can pick it up and read what you need, when you need it.

Bradbury’s advice for fiction writers has shaped my writing life. He believed, especially, in short stories and in reading a lot. And watching movies. One of my favorite parts of Zen in the Art of Writing is the way that Bradbury breaks down how and why he wrote some of my favorite short stories.”

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