The best books for aspiring novelists

Robert Whitlow Author Of Relative Justice
By Robert Whitlow

The Books I Picked & Why

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print

By Renni Browne, Dave King

Book cover of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print

Why this book?

This is the book that enabled me to make the transition from legal writer to novelist. I purchased it at an aspiring writer’s conference without knowing it was well-respected in the publishing industry. I quickly liked the clearly stated, practical guidelines: show not tell, resist the urge to explain, what is point of view, dialogue that works, easy beats. And the book contains humorous illustrations by George Booth. Every writer needs a laugh in the midst of giving birth. 


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The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers

By Christopher Vogler

Book cover of The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers

Why this book?

When asked about the origin of Star Wars, George Lucas acknowledged his debt to Harvard professor and mythologist, Joseph Campbell. This book explains Campbell’s work and unlocks the power of myth in an understandable way. Mythic structure can influence every genre from romantic comedy to sci-fi and make stories 10X better by tapping into the deep, inherent dynamic of story instilled in us from the cradle. Plumb that depth, and you’ll find a passionate audience.


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Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need

By Blake Snyder

Book cover of Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need

Why this book?

This book will keep a writer from chasing his or her own tail. The last thing a novelist wants a reader to do is start skimming. Instead of getting bogged down in muddy story development, learn how to create a clear, engaging arc for both plot and characters. Filled with practical examples gleaned from film and bookshelf, this book can save your story and make it pop.   


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Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English

By Patricia T. O'Conner

Book cover of Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English

Why this book?

No writer’s library is complete without a shelf (that’s right – shelf) dedicated to grammar books. Breaking the rules is allowed, but only by design and for a reason, not due to ignorance. This is my favorite grammar book because it’s witty. Medicine tastes better with a few drops of honey. The important rules are explained with great examples. Learn how to put verbs in their place, find help for pronoun anxiety, and experience the joy of punctuation. What could be more fun than that?!


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The Elements of Style

By William Strunk, E.B. White

Book cover of The Elements of Style

Why this book?

If you ever took a college English composition class, chances are you read this book. Why did you have to read it? Because it’s that good. Some things change, but crisp, clear composition remains relevant. “Omit needless words.” “Write in active voice.” Pithy statements like these still echo in the chambers of the minds of thousands of writers. Heed those voices! 


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