The best books to improve your prose writing and creation of fiction story

William H. Coles Author Of The Art of Creating Story
By William H. Coles

Who am I?

I am an author of literary fiction and nonfiction on the creative writing process. My passion is to provide resources for writers who want to create stories as artful literature that will last. A few years ago, I created a website that contains all my fiction and non-fiction, a newsletter, a workshop, and a blog. The website has received over five million visits. I've published six novels, thirty-seven short stories, thirty essays, twenty-six interviews, and dozens of literary quizzes. My fiction has received over fifty+ awards. I’ve written and presented an online video course: Creating Literary Story with Thinkific. I continue to serve writers who are eager to improve.


I wrote...

The Art of Creating Story

By William H. Coles,

Book cover of The Art of Creating Story

What is my book about?

An educative volume with essays about the process of creating fictional stories; interviews with authors, editors, publishers,(including a Pulitzer Prize winner) on the writing process; and original short stories that illustrate concepts and techniques of storytelling in prose. Major topics include characterization, narration, character-based plotting, dialogue, drama, point of view, significance, and revision.

The books I picked & why

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Understanding Fiction

By Cleanth Brooks (editor), Robert Penn Warren (editor),

Book cover of Understanding Fiction

Why this book?

Well-chosen stories with commentary that makes sense. A classic. Both authors were founders with others of The Fugitives, who published for a short time a literary magazine at Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, Tennessee. Both were giants in the expanding popularity of fiction writing. As a teacher of creative writing and creating great fiction stories, I have found the wisdom of these writers essential in nurturing writers to elevate their work and careers.

Understanding Fiction

By Cleanth Brooks (editor), Robert Penn Warren (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Understanding Fiction as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ample collection of short stories, with essays, notes and questions for each.


Creative Mythology: The Masks of God, Volume IV

By Joseph Campbell,

Book cover of Creative Mythology: The Masks of God, Volume IV

Why this book?

This book, and others by Campbell, has valuable ideas about humanity and mythology that are endlessly useful to fiction writers. Not about craft. About stories. And you’ll get a sense of how stories shape our world. And it has the effects of myth on human existence, fascinating from both a historic and cultural perspective.

Creative Mythology: The Masks of God, Volume IV

By Joseph Campbell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Creative Mythology as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This volume explores the whole inner story of modern culture since the Dark Ages, treating modern man's unique position as the creator of his own mythology.


The Rhetoric of Fiction

By Wayne C. Booth,

Book cover of The Rhetoric of Fiction

Why this book?

Almost without argument, the most in-depth and illuminating text on narration in fiction writing. This book is essential to the library of any serious author of fiction. Written from the perception of a successful academic career, it has credible detail explained with creative insights into the writing process. A worthy addition to a library for reference throughout a writing career.

The Rhetoric of Fiction

By Wayne C. Booth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Rhetoric of Fiction as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first edition of The Rhetoric of Fiction transformed the criticism of fiction and soon became a classic in the field. One of the most widely used texts in fiction courses, it is a standard reference point in advanced discussions of how fictional form works, how authors make novels accessible, and how readers recreate texts, and its concepts and terms-such as "the implied author," "the postulated reader," and "the unreliable narrator"-have become part of the standard critical lexicon.

For this new edition, Wayne C. Booth has written an extensive Afterword in which he clarifies misunderstandings, corrects what he now views…


The Complete Notebooks of Henry James

By Henry James, Leon Edel, Lyall H. Powers

Book cover of The Complete Notebooks of Henry James

Why this book?

It’s fair to say Henry James not only wrote from a stilted, often arcane, time, and that he was verbose to the extreme, and arrogant beyond most contemporary readers’ tolerances. Yet, he created stories that have lasted and served as resources for some of the greatest films of our time: The Golden Bowl, The Wings of the Dove, and Washington Square, for example. The notebooks, in general, are tough reading, and are meant only for reference. But there is insight galore in the thinking of James about writing and the novel that can aid any writer’s career.

The Complete Notebooks of Henry James

By Henry James, Leon Edel, Lyall H. Powers

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Complete Notebooks of Henry James as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

James's biographer and a leading James scholar provide the definitive edition of the writer's notebooks, which were discovered among his papers by Edel in 1937. Of the material here assembled, much was previously unpublished, including pocket diaries and dictated notes.


Writers at Work, Second Series: the Paris Review Interviews, Second Series (Writers at Work)

By George Plimpton,

Book cover of Writers at Work, Second Series: the Paris Review Interviews, Second Series (Writers at Work)

Why this book?

This is the second of four books of the collected interviews of famous authors from the Paris Review. Hemingway, Moore, Porter, Ellison, and Huxley are among the fourteen included in this book. Other books in the series include Forster, Faulkner, Warren, Bellow, Welty, Dinesen, Steinbeck, and many others. You may be amazed at how different successful writers are in their thinking about writing and success in their careers. In my studies in over a hundred workshops and many lectures and seminars, I was fortunate to meet and know teachers and students who knew, or studied, with many of these authors. Experiences that make me think you’d value most of Plimpton’s work in this series.

Writers at Work, Second Series: the Paris Review Interviews, Second Series (Writers at Work)

By George Plimpton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Writers at Work, Second Series as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

TWO BOOK OFFER. "Writers at Work -- The Paris Review Interviews: First Series and Second Series". Viking Press Paperbacks, copyrights 1957 and 1963; Compass Books Editions issued in1961 and 1965. First Series (Compass No. C52) 3rd printing Nov 1961, 309 pp. Second Series (Compass No. C175) 3rd printing July 1966, 368 pp. Both books size 7 3/4" by 5" by about 3/4". Bindings intact; no loose or missing pages; spines not creased. First Series volume is in only GOOD condition: covers and pages are clean and unmarked EXCEPT the covers show moderate shelf wear, the front cover opens wide, and…


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