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But I do have quite the collection on my bookshelves and I’ve also borrowed my fair share from the library too (followers of my Twitter feed will know how much I struggle with space to keep all my books and all the weird places I end up stashing them! I could easily write multiple blogs listing the best books on writing fiction, on writing poetry, on screenwriting, on content writing, and more. We all have our own methods, and we don’t all write the same thing.
There’s also an amazing central section consisting of commonly confused words and a wordfinder (be still my beating heart), featuring thematic lists of all sorts of devices that your story might feature – from chemical elements and clothing to phobias and flowers. So whether you’re a poet, novelist, or content writer – this book is the perfect desktop creative prompter. Until a few years ago I had no idea what this meant (I now know I’m more of Pantser), and it was mostly the title of this book that intrigued me. Initially Hawker’s book was self-published, and has since been published again in newer editions due to its popularity with writers around the world.
The basic premise is that if you’re a Pantser (as in ‘you fly by the seat of your pants’) then you might well end up with something beautiful but it’ll take you far longer than if you outline your plot first.
I read ‘Zen and the Art of Writing’ mainly on my commutes to and from my content strategy day job a few years ago, and it made me feel like I could be, should be, would be a true writer as soon as I started typing.
This one might seem out of place in my list, but hear me out. Again, you might think a book of synonyms is quaint and out of date. Yes, you can Google synonyms for anything, but that’s if you already know what you’re looking for.
It’s excellent advice to not over-describe, and to trust the reader to make part of the journey themselves.
It’s a reminder that this is part of the joy of reading, and that it’s an active engagement between author and reader.
These books are worthy winners, but there are some others that’re definitely worth looking at too.
Notable mentions must also go to Bird by Bird, Reading Like a Writer, Writers Journey – Mythic Structure for Writers, and Guerrilla’s Guide to Film and Screenwriting – the first book I ever bought on writing at the tender age of 15.
This is more important if you really want to be a commercial writer and produce books quickly and efficiently.
The main strength of this book is how it breaks down a typical story’s parts into simple pieces you can plan in advance.