Five Books Every Writer Should Read

Connie McKinneyStarred Page By Connie McKinney, 28th Aug 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/zhue6k55/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Tips

If you want to become a better writer, then these five books can help you get there. I've learned a lot from them, and so can you.

What to Read to Write Better


Finding books on writing can be daunting because there are so many books on the subject. I've narrowed the list down to five books which have all helped me improve my writing. They range from classics such as "The Elements of Style" by William Strunk and E.B. White to Stephen King's "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft."
These books are handy to have on your bookshelf for quick reference. I try to read at least a few chapters of these books every year just to refresh my memory.
Here is my list of five books every writer should read:

  1. "On Writing Well" by William Zinsser
  2. "The Art and Craft of Feature Writing" by William E. Blundell
  3. "Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within" by Natalie Goldberg
  4. "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft" by Stephen King
  5. "The Elements of Style" by William Strunk and E.B. White

Some authors are no longer with us but their writing wisdom lives on in their books. Their advice is so timeless that writers will still be reading them for years and maybe even decades to come.
The advice in all these books should be helpful to you whether you write short blogs online, publish books or write traditional articles for magazines and newspapers. Non-fiction as well as fiction writers should learn from these books.
All five books are available online at Amazon.com. Let's take a look.

On Writing Well: A Classic Every Writer Should Read


"On Writing Well" was published more than 35 years ago but is still going strong. This classic book breaks down the writing process into steps and simplifies the process of writing leads and endings. The book also lists pitfalls many of us fall into such as clutter. How many of us are guilty of writing "for the purpose of" instead of for?
"On Writing Well" has chapters on different types of writing such as interviews, travel and business writing. So if you are writing a travel article on your favorite vacation spot for Wikinut, you may want to refer to this book first.

The Art and Craft of Feature Writing: Helpful For All Writers


"The Art and Craft of Feature Writing" is another classic writing book which was aimed at newspaper and magazine feature writers - who have unfortunately become a dying breed. However, this advice is still relevant to today's writers even if their platform is online and not newsprint.
You'll read tips on getting story ideas, what readers like, and how to organize stories. For example, when in doubt about what to write about here on Wikinut, write about your dog or cat instead of your tax return. People love reading about animals but get turned off by numbers.
This book has a useful chapter on leads, quotes and paraphrasing. The chapter on word craft covers topics such as how to describe well - helpful for poets, fiction writers and non-fiction writers.

Writing Down the Bones: A more Creative Approach to Writing


"Writing Down the Bones" takes a creative, almost Zen approach to writing. Chapters include "Be An Animal," "The Samurai," and "Every Monday." For example, stalk your prey, which is whatever you plan to write about. Then, pounce at a set time, wind up a kitchen timer or set your cell phone to 15 minutes and see what you come up with.
Goldberg also offers some classic advice such as show, don't tell. For example, instead of writing how moved you were when you saw your niece being born, write what you see. Describe the sweat running down the mother's face, the husband breathing with her and his hand wiping her forehead.

On Writing: Learn From a Master


"On Writing" is a memoir of being a writer. Stephen King talks about his early life and his struggles before he hit it big with "Carrie." He describes living in a four-room, rundown apartment and struggling to make ends meet when his publisher calls with the news of a $400,000 advance for the paperback rights to "Carrie." He puts you on the scene and makes you see and feel what he did
There's a section called "Toolbox" in which Kings shares some writing tips. He gives some examples you can learn from and some you should avoid. He also references the final book you should read: "The Elements of Style."

The Elements of Style:Tiny But Terrific


"The Elements of Style" was first published in 1935 yet still ranks as one of the best writing books ever published. This book runs 92 pages - counting the index. The first part is a quick reference on basic grammar and usage including when to use a comma, colon or dash. Keep this one handy whenever you write.
This book has a useful chapter on commonly misused words and phrases. For example, you should write fewer men not less men. If you see a ghost floating around, you've just seen an illusion not an allusion.
All five books will teach you how to write better no matter what you write about. Just remember: write about your dog not your tax return.

Here is an article I wrote on writing stronger articles:
Here is one I wrote on writing stronger leads:
Here is one I wrote on writing good endings:

Attribution


All photos were taken by the author.
This article used some information from all five books featured.

  1. "On Writing Well" by William Zinsser
  2. "The Art and Craft of Feature Writing" by William E. Blundell
  3. "Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within" by Natalie Goldberg
  4. "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft" by Stephen King
  5. "The Elements of Style" by Strunk and White

Tags

Writing, Writing A Novel, Writing Articles, Writing For A Living, Writing Online, Writing Skill, Writing Skills, Writing Tips, Writing Tips And Tricks

Meet the author

author avatar Connie McKinney
I enjoy exercising, pets, and volunteering as well as writing about these topics and others.

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Comments

author avatar Phyl Campbell
28th Aug 2013 (#)

I've read all of these and also recommend Lynn Truss' Eats Shoots And Leaves. Good overview!

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author avatar Connie McKinney
29th Aug 2013 (#)

Thanks, Phyl. I liked "Eats Shoots and Leaves", too. I have even more writing books on my shelves but I wanted to pick out the top five.

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author avatar Clarence Schreiber
29th Aug 2013 (#)

I might have to check these books out. I know I love to improve my writing even more so and these might even help. I know I like to go back to school so I can improve my writing.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
29th Aug 2013 (#)

thank you Connie...

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author avatar Connie McKinney
29th Aug 2013 (#)

Clarence, all of these books are great for writers. I've read a lot of books on writing but these five are my favorites. So I encourage to read them.

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
29th Aug 2013 (#)

Writing Down the Bones: A more Creative Approach to Writing and
The Art and Craft of Feature Writing: Helpful For All Writers
my favorites, still all five books are excellent, thank you!

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
29th Aug 2013 (#)

Thank you Connie. I will an eye for them as I have not read any books on writing. I have learned from reading good articles in newspapers and what make some stand-out - siva

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author avatar Connie McKinney
29th Aug 2013 (#)

Thanks, Fern. I agree: I think Writing down the Bones and the Art and Craft of Feature Writing are the best. All five are great resources for us writers.

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author avatar Connie McKinney
29th Aug 2013 (#)

Siva, you are right as usual. You can learn some good writing techniques from reading good newspaper articles.
I have read a lot of books about writing but honestly believe that these five are the best ones out there.
As always, I look forward to your next piece, Siva.

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author avatar Mike Robbers
29th Aug 2013 (#)

Nice list and suggestions, Connie!

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author avatar Connie McKinney
29th Aug 2013 (#)

Thanks, Mike. Hope they're as helpful to everyone else as they have been to me.

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author avatar Mariah
30th Aug 2013 (#)

Hi Connie
Thanks for sharing this, I'll make a point of looking them up in the library, I haven't read any books on writing tips so
it's certainly worth checking them out.
Mariah

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author avatar Connie McKinney
30th Aug 2013 (#)

Thanks, Mariah. All of them are so helpful.

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author avatar Zola
31st Aug 2013 (#)

Very interesting. Thank you for sharing. I'll look some of these up as soon as I can.

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author avatar Connie McKinney
31st Aug 2013 (#)

Thanks, Zola. They are all very helpful books.

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author avatar Delicia Powers
6th Sep 2013 (#)

they sound very useful, thanks Connie...

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
18th Sep 2013 (#)

Thank you, Connie. I might add: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, each for different reasons. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Connie McKinney
18th Sep 2013 (#)

Thnaks, Marilyn. I've read "Bird By Bird" but never read "The War of Art."

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