I’ve been going through my writing books lately extracting inspiration and learning from specific books. I’m reminded of various aspects of writing from the technical to the creative as I read. This process has inspired me to share with you what books, audiobooks, and videos that are on my bookshelf. Most of what I have I’ve only read or “gone through” once, but there are several that I’ve gone through multiple times, sometimes multiple times a year since purchase. Some items I peruse over and over until something better came along.
I’ve organized my lists into category types: English Grammar, Writing Genre Fiction, Writing and Storytelling, Name Books, and Inspirational. Most of the lists are in book form, but I do indicate which I have in audio or video format. So, I hope that is interesting and helpful for you.
Writing Books on WriterAlina’s Bookshelf
Books About English Grammar
I actually have very few books on English Grammar. I try to look at them while writing; but to be honest, I use these resources mostly for learning and if I have an immediate question I usually ask the internet.
- The Everyday Writer: A Brief Reference by Lunsford & Connors
- Eats, Shoots, & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss
The Great Courses
- Building Great Sentences: Exploring The Writer’s Craft [DVDs]
- English Grammar Boot Camp
How-to Write Genre Fiction
In my early years of writing, I purchased and received many gifts regarding my choice of genre fiction. I also purchased How-to Write packages from Writer’s Digest. Some of the books were super helpful and inspiring and others not so much, most of the time much of the information was repeated over and over but said most effectively in ones I’ve read multiple times and are also listed as my favorite writing books.
- The Craft of Writing Science Fiction That Sells by Ben Bova
- The Complete Guide to Writing Science Fiction: Volume One edited by Dave A Lay and Darin Park
Writer’s Digest Science Fiction Writing Series
- Aliens & Alien Societies: A Writer’s Guide to Creating Extra Terrestrial Life-Forms by Schmidt Stanley
- Space Travel by Ben Bova and Anthony R Lewis
- Time Travel by Paul J Nahin
- World-Building by Stephen L Gillett
The Writer’s Digest Genre Writing Series
- The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction by Philip Athans
- How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card
- Writing The Paranormal Novel by Steven Harper
How-to Write and Tell Stories
These are also books that I’ve bought myself and received as gifts. Many I’ve purchased in recent years thinking that I’d gain some edge to my process but realized in the end that many of these gimmicky sounding titles are just that. But sometimes you have to go through some of the obvious sounding titles to find some real gems.
- 20 Master Plots (And How to Build Them) by Ronald B Tobias
- 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron [kindle & audio]
- The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose, and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great by Donald Maass
- GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon
- How to Write Short Stories and Use Them to Further Your Writing Career by James Scott Bell
- Indie Author Survival Guide (Second Edition)(Crafting a Self-Publishing Career Book 1) by Susan Kaye Quinn
- Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success (Helping Writers Become Authors Book 1) by K.M. Weiland [kindle & audio]
- Story Structure Architect: A Writer’s guide to building dramatic situations & compelling characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, Ph.D.
- Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee
- Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keyes for Writing an Outstanding Story (Helping Writers Become Authors Book 3) by K.M. Weiland [kindle & audio]
- The Writer’s Journey 2nd Edition Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler
- The Writer’s Two Journeys (A DVD Course) by Christopher Vogler and Micheal Hauge [DVDs]
- Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly by Gail Carson Levine
- Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass
- Writing the Fiction Synopsis (How-to Series (Memphis, Tenn.)) by Pam McCutcheon
The Great Courses
- Writing Great Fiction: Storytelling Tips and Techniques
Writer’s Digest Elements of Fiction Writing
- Character and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card
- Scene & Structure by Jack M Bickham
Writer’s Digest Writing Great Fiction Series
- Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for crafting a plot that grips readers from start to finish by James Scott Bell
- Description & Setting: Techniques and exercises for crafting a believable world of people, places, and events by Ron Rozelle
Yes, I own baby name books, I have for a long time. I prefer using baby name books over using baby name websites. I’ll use websites when I want a quicker reference on a name meaning, but when I’m creating a name for my characters there’s nothing like looking through a book and feel what’s right.
- 20,001 Names For Baby: From A to Z — The Best, Most Complete Baby Name Book by Carol McD. Wallace
- Baby Names Around the World (Over 50,000 Names) by Bruce Lansky
- From Aaron to Zoe 15,000 Great Baby Names by Daniel Avram Richman
- The Writer’s Digest Character Name Sourcebook (Second Edition) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Creativity, Encouragement, and Inspiration
To be honest, these books have been some of my most valued of my writing books. I say this because in the end my writing and my personal growth are connected; if I spend time working on my personal growth then my writing will be more connected and the ideas will gush out of me.
- The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron [I own the book and audible versions of this book.]
- Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind (The 99U Book Series) by 99U [kindle & audio]
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
- Thinking Write: The Secret to Freeing Your Creative Mind by Kally L Stone
- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield [kindle & audio]
WriterAlina’s Recommendations for Writing Books
Of all the videos, books, and audiobooks that I’ve watched, read, and listened to over the years these are the ones that help me the most. Many of these books I come back to over and over again at different points of my writing process to gain knowledge and encouragement. Some books I’ve had since I was in high school and others only a year or two, but each has touched me in ways that inspire me to go back to them. I never get tired of reading, listening, or watching them.
The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron
The Artit’s Way reminds me how to keep my mind open to creativity. I often use the various exercises in this book to inspire my creativity and grow as a writer.
Character and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card
Character and viewpoint reminds me how to understand the psychology of my characters so I can capture their deep POV and effectively express that POV to the reader. Some of my attempts are better than others.
The Craft of Writing Science Fiction That Sells by Ben Bova
This was my very first book I ever owned involving the writing process. My mom knew I loved Science Fiction and wanted to write it. She first checked this book out at the library and then bought it for me as a gift to encourage me in my aspirations. Perhaps it’s sentimental, but then Ben Bova is one of my favorite Science Fiction authors, so there’s a lot of talent there too. Every time I read The Craft of Writing Science Fiction That Sells my imagination expands with all kinds of Speculative Fiction story ideas. I’m also reminded of how to keep my stories believable and scientifically inspired.
GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon
GMC is one of my favorite books for story structure because this book explains what needs to be in all of the scenes in your book. If each scene doesn’t have clear goals, motivations, and conflict then I need to think twice before adding the scene to my story.
Indie Author Survival Guide (Second Edition)(Crafting a Self-Publishing Career Book 1) by Susan Kaye Quinn
The Indie Author Survival Guide inspires my Self-Publishing goals. This book has also helped me to adjust my thinking toward my writing. My writing is a business and I need to treat it as such.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
It’s always nice to hear about the troubles and successes of a popular writer. King’s stories encourage me to take my writing seriously.
Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success (Helping Writers Become Authors Book 1) by K.M. Weiland
I love how K.M. Weiland has broken down her process of outlining and made it tangible and repeatable. I use her method while using scrivener when I write. Sometimes the outline is paper thin and other times it’s extremely complex, but there is a map that I use for my stories now.
Scene & Structure by Jack M Bickham
Scene & Structure was one of the first real “how-to write” novels I was recommended. If you could see my copy of this book, it’s all tagged and highlighted, there’s barely an unmarked page. These days I prefer K.M. Weiland’s Structuring Your Novel, but I mention Scene & Structure because this goes a step beyond Weiland’s book and gets into the nitty-gritty of how to go from scene to sequel and back again. As a learning tool, this book is great.
Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee
I’ve had this audiobook for a long time. This is one of the first real story structure books I’ve ever gone through. Every time I listen to this book I get into the mindset of how to look at storytelling. This book points out the primary elements of storytelling and what makes one story over another more compelling.
Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keyes for Writing an Outstanding Story (Helping Writers Become Authors Book 3) by K.M. Weiland
Like in her outlining book, K.M. Weiland has broken down the various elements of story structure into bite sized bits that can be digested and understood easily. I use her method while using scrivener when I write.
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
I love this book! Whenever I am feeling down and need encouragement to write I crack out this audiobook. It illuminates what I need to change in my own life to become a successful writer. I find it encouraging and use it as a guide to spark my creativity.
The Writer’s Digest Character Name Sourcebook (Second Edition) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
This is one of the best name books I’ve come across. The content is in-depth and I love how it talks about the history of naming in various cultures. It’s a great resource for generating cultural names.
The Writer’s Digest Science Fiction Writing Series (all of the books)
I can’t begin to describe how indispensable these books have been in building my fictional worlds. Reading through them has inspired me to think of new worlds, to think about our own world differently, and to consider how detailed I want my fictional worlds to be.
The Writer’s Two Journeys (A DVD Course) by Christopher Vogler and Micheal Hauge
I was lucky to purchase The Writer’s Two Journeys as a 3 DVD set on Amazon before it became unavailable. I like this series because it’s more condensed than The Writer’s Journey and I felt like the lessons were more tangible. I was able to apply much of what I learned right away. When I plan out my stories, I use the structure outlined by The Writer’s Two Journeys along with K.M Weiland’s Structuring Your Novel together in my scrivener templates.
Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass
Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook is another book I’ve had for a very long time. It’s an amazing workbook that I use to deepen my characters and stories. The points that are made in this workbook help to ignite my imagination and also help me during the editing process.
What Writing Books Will You Buy?
I hope seeing what writing books are on my bookshelf will help you decide which writing books might be helpful for you. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that not all writing books are created equal and what books work for one may not work for everyone.
One Writing Book that is on my wish list is Writing Speculative Fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror by Lelia Rose Foreman. This book was recommended by one of my Goodreads friends Hannah Heath. She’s a prolific blogger and book reviewer. I trust her judgment.
I’ve also recently acquired The Great Courses Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer’s Craft. The Course is 16 sessions long, but I’m hoping it will help my grammar and technical writing. I’ll let you know how it goes.
So what writing books are your favorite? What keeps your writer’s mojo flowing? Do you have any recommendations? I’d like to know. Leave me a comment and we can converse.