The Writer’s Life Writer’s Book List


Wally Bock Has His on Website on Writing Tips - Photo Courtesy of Wally Bock's Website
Wally Bock Has His on Website on Writing Tips – Photo Courtesy of Wally Bock’s Website

Wally Bock - September 17, 2009

@ Copyright 2003, Wally Bock

Here are some books about writing that I really like. They are offered subject to the following qualification.

Over the years I’ve read a ton of books about writing. What I have not done is make a comprehensive survey of the literature on writing. I’ve read what looked interesting to me.

I write stories that are true. Since I don’t write fiction, you won’t see any fiction-specific recommendations here. I don’t know that territory well enough.

I’ve divided my list into five areas

Absolute Essentials

Start with Strunk and White. End with Strunk and White. If you can only have one book to help you with your writing, make it The Elements of Style. If you do not have a copy, buy one. Don’t wait to read any more. Buy your copy now.

Ok, now we know that you’ve either got a copy of Elements of Style handy or you’re fooling yourself about being serious. The other book I’d put in absolute essentials is William Zinsser’s On Writing Well.

How-To Books About Writing True Stories

The Art of Storytelling

These will require a bit of explanation.

The Tales of the Dervishes by Idries Shah is a collection of Sufi teaching stories. The Sufi are Islamic mystics and their teaching stories are simply remarkable. You already know some of these, without knowing their source. Read these as models for structure and pace.

My other recommendation on the art of storytelling is from the world of artificial intelligence. The author, Roger Schank is a researcher in artificial intelligence. He was trying to understand stories so he could devise a way for a computer to understand them and tell them. The result of his research is in this book.

Tell Me a Story will give you insight into what a story is and what the moving parts do. That knowledge, in turn, will help you get those parts to work together more effectively in your stories. This book is no longer in print, but it’s worth hunting up a used copy.

Writers on Writing

As you might expect, writers write a lot about writing. Here are some wonderfully helpful books.

Stephen King On Writing is simply the best advice book I’ve ever read on the craft of writing. I’ve written a full review of this book. You’ll find it in the Book Review section of this site.

The Raymond Chandler Papers give you insight into the mind of one of the great mystery writers, and writers of any kind, of all time. There’s lots of good advice in here, but it’s slipped in between other things.

Word by Word: an Inspirational Look at the Craft of Writing is a collection of pieces by writers who made presentations at the Maui Writer’s Conference.

Here are a few other writers writing about writing. I browse through these from time to time for inspiration and insight.

Making Some Money from Your Writing

Writing is a little like pinball. If you win, you get to keep playing. The fact is that most writers don’t pay much attention to the business side of things. That’s too bad, because if you manage the business side well, you’ll be more likely to make a living writing.

If you’re selling you work to large publishers, you’ll have to do a book proposal. There are lots of good books out there on how to accomplish that task. My pick is Write the Perfect Book Proposal: 10 That Sold and Why, by Jeff Herman and Deborah Levine. I like it because it doesn’t show you one way to write a proposal. It shows you ten.

If you’re thinking about publishing your own work, then you must read Dan Poynter’s classic, The Self-Publishing Manual. This book has been around for years, going through edition after edition because folks find it valuable.

Gordon Burgett has been a successful writer and entrepreneur for years. He’s written three books about using books as the foundation of your “empire.” Pick any one to read first. The odds are you’ll then purchase the other two. These books will give you a roadmap for how to use your ability to write to make money.

Whether you’re selling your own books or you’ve got a big publisher, you’d better understand how to market your books. The single best book on this is John Kremer’s 1001 Ways to Market Your Books.

In today’s Digital Age one powerful way that a writer can make money is to sell his or her work directly over the Internet. If you’re interested in that, check out the services of Port City Publishing.

For more information, please visit: http://www.bockinfo.com/writer/booklist.htm

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2 Comments on “The Writer’s Life Writer’s Book List

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