Today I’m sharing books that have made me a better writer as I work towards publishing my first novel, Sweet Redemption. The best authors are readers themselves and not only consume the books in their genre, but also books that improve their own narratives. I’ve been writing in the corporate world for nearly a decade (still not sure how that happened – time flies!) and even though I consider myself an experienced writer, I’m constantly learning and humbled by those who are ahead of me on their journeys.
As I mentioned on Instagram today, if you want writing to be your job, then you need to treat it like a job (even if you’re not getting paid yet). I’ve already provided advice about overcoming writers’ block, building an author platform, and querying literary agents, and today I’m focusing on just a few of the books that have made me a better writer. I hope you’ll check them out and let me know what you think! Make sure you read right to the bottom of this post for a bonus picture of Buster the boxer.
Before you read my list, remember, I have a giveaway going on with the lovely and talented Marlo Lanz, who I’m always learning from, and I highly recommend checking out my interview with her and entering our giveaway to win a copy of her amazing book before it’s too late. If you’re in Canada or the United States, you can win an autographed copy. If you’re from anywhere else, we’ll send you an e-copy. What are you waiting for?!
Books that have made me a better writer
The boy who was raised as a dog by Bruce Perry. Psychology books allow you to provide depth to your characterizations. Many stories explore heroes and heroines overcoming issues that have occurred in their childhoods and this book was an invaluable resource as I learned about the implications of childhood trauma in adulthood. I was able to colour Trevor’s character with a lot more context and make him feel real as a result.
Write naked: A Bestseller’s Secrets to Writing Romance & Navigating the Path to Success by Jennifer Probst. Learn how to transform your passion for writing into a career. A New York Times best-selling author reveals her pathway to success, from struggling as a new writer to signing a seven-figure deal. I can’t recommend this book enough.
Story genius by Lisa Cron. The tagline for this book says it all. Read it “before you waste three years writing 327 pages that go nowhere.” It isn’t enough to have a great idea or to be a great writer – you need to know how to write a great story. Do you know the difference? If not, read this book.
Wired for story by Lisa Cron. The back cover promises, “imagine knowing what the brain craves from every tale it encounters, what fuels the success of any great story, and what keeps readers transfixed.” This is a science-based book that reveals “cognitive secrets” that will make you a better writer.
On writing by Stephen King. Mr. King is a master and this book is a bible. Whether you’re a fan of his work or not (personally, I’ve read everything he’s ever written), you can’t argue that the man knows how to write books that sell and has undoubtedly learned a thing (or a million things) over the years that he’s nicely packaged into a book for your consumption. Take advantage.
How to write your first novel by Donald Maas. This book is written by an agent and if you’re trying to land one, it can’t hurt to get some advice, right? Even if you’re an experienced, published author, there are still gems to be found in this book.
Note: any books not pictured in the stack are at the cottage, my favourite place to read and write. Some of the books in the picture are plant-based cookbooks because in addition to becoming a better writer, I’m currently obsessed with continuing to reduce my consumption of meat and learning new recipes.
Update! I’ve come across some amazing resources that I just had to share:
- The art of character
- Plotting the character driven novel
- The no-plot plotting method for character-driven novels
- Creating character arcs
- Character development
- Write great fiction: plot & structure
- Save the cat writes a novel
- The secrets of story
- Bird by bird: some instructions of writing and life
- The emotional craft of fiction
What is the best book on writing you’ve ever read? If you’re not an author, what is your favourite book or cookbook?
James’ photography essentials
- James shoots with a fancy (and expensive) camera, but highly recommends the Canon Rebel as a great entry option
- A sturdy tripod and carrying case are crucial accessories
- If you’re often out and about on adventures like we are, you’ll also need a cleaning kit
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