Recommended Books on the craft of writing


An Old Friend
Beginnings, Middles & Ends (Elements of Fiction Writing)
by Nancy Kress
Writers Digest Books; ISBN: 0898799058

Characters and Viewpoint (Elements of Fiction Writing)
by Orson Scott Card
Writer's Digest Books; ISBN: 0898799279

Dynamic Characters: How to Create Personalities That Keep Readers Captivated
by Nancy Kress
Writers Digest Books; ISBN: 0898798159

The Elements of Style
by William Strunk Jr., E.B. White, Roger Angell
Allyn & Bacon; ISBN: 020530902X

How to Write a Damn Good Novel
by James N. Frey
St. Martin's Press; ISBN: 0312010443

How to Write a Damn Good Novel, II: Advanced Techniques for Dramatic Storytelling
by James N. Frey
St. Martin's Press; ISBN: 0312104782

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
by Stephen King
Pocket Books; ISBN: 0671024256

On Writing Science Fiction: The Editors Strike Back
by George H. Scithers, Isaac Asimov, Darrell Schweitzer
Wildside Press; ISBN: 1880448785

The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes: (And How to Avoid Them)
by Jack M. Bickham
Writers Digest Books; ISBN: 0898798213

Worlds of Wonder: How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy
by David Gerrold
Writers Digest Books; ISBN: 1582970076
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Creative Writer
OSC's : Characters and Viewpoints is actually a solid book that is quite often found in the american english classrooms apparently!


The two major books people want in their collections first are -

Ben Bovas : Craft of Writing SciFi That Sells

which really only explains how to write like him and covers short story format really


OSC's : How To Write Science Fiction and Fantasy

A really good read, pointing out what a book should have in it, although the situations and conversations he describes are highly outdated material, even laughable in this day and age.


i have all three of these "core" books (as i like to call them) and they have helped me get to the stage i am at with my writing. luckily, even though they are out of print and difficult to get in the main, they are available on the net in ebook format if you look hard enough

Stephen Kings : On Writing seemed to be more of a biography than an instructional aid, and a very large one at that!

Isaac Asimovs : Extraterrestrial Civilisations

1979 edition, some of our views on other planets and types of life that could exist in the univers have changed since this was written, but it's an interesting read to assemble your thoughts to creating believable worlds and races more Science than Fiction



Creative Writer
Going past the specific books written for writers, what else could you have in your collection?

well, next to the cubby i write in on my pc i have a pine box unit full of books. Half of the books are for courses i have studied at college or am currently studying (or even for some courses i intend to take!) but the other half is a collection of assorted information books as reference material to help my stories be more down to earth.

The biggest dictionary i could get my hands on (affordability included!) one with 85,000 vocabulary references (most dictionaries the man on the street picks up run from 38-45,000) remember this : there are 1,000,000 proper words in the english language, and about the same again 'improper' words

A thesaurus for when my vocabulary fails me. if i have that word on the tip of my tongue and can lower the educational needs a touch and remember an alternative word, i can look up what i wanted.

Science manuals covering biology (i've studied to intermediate level so have knowledge of dna/rna and habitats for living creatures), chemistry (to know your minerals/ores/life building qualities in the ground) and a few "beginners guide to" simplified easy read versions on subjects such as quantum physics (as you have to decide which side of intergalactic travel you reside on, slower than/faster than light, folding space, wormholes/blackholes)

cyclopedias, factbooks, origin of species (hehe), anything that could show me people, animal and land/water/plantlife distributions on our planet.

The net can be handy for gaining information too, just not very. the information on it is only as good as the person who placed it there and theres a fair few nutters posting wierd stuff on the net (and to any person not into scifi, apparently we are responsible for a fair share of the inane ramblings on the net ourselves :smiley: )

and then we have the human mind, nice and disorganised, theres a lot of information in there you have probably forgotten about. i subscribe to the bubble theory method of memory storage and retrieval, so i tend to carry a micro cassette dictation machine everywhere i go, to jot down facts, images, memories, even scenes laid out in front of me in the real world. i can work on a couple of short stories at a time without losing track of what i am doing, but with the recorder i have the ideas for about 8 short stories sat there waiting to be used.

pc storage. backup everything daily onto cdrw's and keep away from your pc, prefereably a different location although that is difficult physically. so you are looking for online storage. with the advent of yahoo, hotmail and gmail offering huge online email storage, simply email your work to yourself every day. you can retrieve it any time and it shouldn't be lost to failing HDD's, fire in the home/office, simple stupidity! use the "cc" bar to send to two accounts, seperate email providers, we've never had it so easy to store our work safely so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world! i trained as a systems analyst so going on location i was supposed to design fool proof computer systems to replace manual filing systems where all these points were to be imlemented.

i've pretty much thought of everything i can, but will amend/edit this thread as and when needed.


An Old Friend
38 Most common fiction writing mistakes (And how to avoid them)

To be honest the title of this book made me think it was going to be some ghastly jump-on-the-band-wagon, make-money-at-home type book. I was totally wrong. Every point in this book is gold dust for people like me trying to learn the craft of writing. I'm guilty of most of the mistakes it points out. His explanations are so short and concise they make you laugh out loud. The fact that the book is so short is no accident, he practices what he preaches and gives the facts, without bull****, in clear and easy to understand terms. This book is spot on and worth every penny for those who take their fiction seriously. is for sale | HugeDomains

Another review


More like it


An Old Friend





Plotting the Novel Michael LegatRobert Hale £8.50
How to Write a Blockbuster and Make £Millions Sarah Harrison Allison & Busby £8.99
How to Write a Million: The Complete Guide to Becoming a Successful Author Dibell, Card & TurcoRobinson £9.99
How to Write a Novel John Braine Methuen £7.99
Solutions for Novelists: Secrets of a Master Editor
Sol Stein Souvenir Press £12.99
Teach Yourself Creative Writing
Dianne Doubtfire Hodder & Stoughton £7.99
Bestseller: Secrets of Successful Writing Celia Brayfield Fourth Estate £7.99
How to Plot Your Novel Jean Saunders Allison & Busby £8.99
Fiction Writer’s Workshop Josip Novakovich Story Press £10.99
The Creative Writing Coursebook edited by Julia Bell & Paul Magrstd Macmillan £14.99
Write and Sell your Novel: The Beginner’s Guide to Writing for Publication Marina Oliver How to Books £8.99\
How to Write and Sell your First Novel - Revised Oscar Collier with Frances Spatz Leighton Writer’s Digest £10.99
The Complete Guide to Editing Your Fiction
Michael Seidman Writer’s Digest £10.99 Fiction First Aid: Instant Remedies for Novels and Stories Raymond Obstfeld F & W £10.99
Writing Popular Fiction Rona Randall A & C Black £9.99
Getting into Character; Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors
Brandilyn Collins John Wiley £11.95
How to Write Damn Good Fiction
James N Frey Macmillan £9.99
The Writer’s Ideas Book
Writer’s Digest £9.99
45 Master Characters
Victoria Schmidt Writer’s Digest hardback £12.71
What If: Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter £7.99
The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes
Jack M Bickham £8.30
The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes Jack M Bickham £18.99
Dynamic Characters: How to Create Personalities that Keep Readers Captivated
Nancy Kress £12.14
Three Rules for Writing a Novel: a Guide to Story Development William Noble Independent Publisher Group $15.50
Writer’s Digest Handbook of Short Story Writing
Frank Dickson and Sandra Smythe Writer’s Digest $14.99
Creative Writing 4th Edition Adele Ramet How To Books £8.99

Writing a Novel

Nigel Watts Teach Yourself Hodder & Stoughton £8.99
Im reading now Jack Bickham's book about common mistakes, and I must say, it' very nice and I can recomend everyone, who would like to try themself in fiction writing, to read this book.

The things, which made me very happy about this book is relatively simple and understandable language (ofcrs, sometimes, I had to use translator) however, general idea, and general point, you can cach very easely.

Another thing, which I like, that there are good examples, how you shall not do and how to avoid such mistakes.


I have not read many of these books on writing. However, I have read Stephen King's "On Writing." It is phenomenal. To me this is the premier book on writing - no matter what your genre. He really boils down the basic tenants on writing (Here's an article on it with King's tips: Stephen King's 20 Tips for Becoming a Frighteningly Good Writer). The book does split between pure writing craft and autobiography, but I think that is part of what makes it great. It's useful to know the nuts and bolts of an author's life and lifestyle. How do you do it - how do you actually get successful. You can read pages and pages of books on grammar and long treatises on technique and that's ok, but being a writer is not simply a mechanical thing. It's an avocation.

Also, Brandon Sanderson teaches a class on writing for science fiction / fantasy at BYU. The entire class lecture series is online for FREE. Its amazing. One of his grad students posted it and broke each lecture down to like 10 minute sub-parts. I burned through these and found them very very practical and informative. Check it out: Sanderson also splits between craft and the business of writing. He is very informative about both and his insight into markets and this changing industry are very interesting and well worth it.

In today's changing literary landscape and the rise of the ebook , it is more important than ever for writers to have some knowledge of the business of writing. Sure, some folks will be lucky enough and successful enough that they may just be able to focus on their writing alone and have agents, lawyers, editors and publishers take care of the rest - and yet even these lucky people would be well served to have a better understanding of the career they have chosen. Knowledge is a good thing. You can never know enough.

Also, I believe that most of what you should need to know about writing you should be able to find for free (or next to nothing). Stephen King's tips on writing are on the internet for free (you don't have to buy his book - but it is worth it), and Sanderson's lecture is free. You can sign up for classes and lectures, which can be useful for practicing the craft and helping to create discipline or a refocus in your life, but ultimately you can do the same things for free if you are dedicated, diligent, disciplined and persevere.

At least, that's what I believe.


Writer, Inventor, Quantum Activist
I thoroughly enjoyed Stephen King's "A Memoir of the Craft". I listened to the audio book just because someone recommended I shouldn't because his voice reading his books is very monotonous. My thought was that if he's reading something like Shawshank Redemption or Carrie then I could see how boring it would be but since it's a book about how he personally writes and not a story, his voice seemed just right for it.
Great article to read it about mistakes.. Simply I just read these mistakes article when I was in Graduation, but forget to learn. Its good, thanks
Awesome, thank you for the suggestions!

I'm looking for the Orson Scott Card one now. I love it when authors like this explain their development processes for their characters!


An Old Friend
Wow, Q
I completely forgot about this thread. Thanx for the reminder.
Perhaps I will look for updated sites from newer authors.
Wow, Q
I completely forgot about this thread. Thanx for the reminder.
Perhaps I will look for updated sites from newer authors.

Yeah, I was looking for good ideas on character development, and came across your gems here randomly. Serendipity works in weird ways sometimes!

In any case, thanks again, Tom!