Best Books to Learn Creative Writing

When I first decided to write full time four years ago, like everything else I make my mind up to tackle, I knew that I first needed to study to craft. I mean, yeah, anybody can string words together, but there actually are rules to creative writing. Don’t ever let anyone tell you differently. I read a lot of advice books from established authors on the craft of writing, and I’d like to share with you the most important things that stuck with me, and also the names and authors of a couple of those books.

The main thing about creative writing is that you want your reader to forget they are reading. Make the story read so smoothly and flow naturally, and that’s what will happen. You aren’t writing for yourself, you are writing for the reader’s entertainment. Anything you put in your story that doesn’t advance the plot doesn’t belong.

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Use all five senses, sight, sound, touch, smell and taste, as you describe scenes. That puts the reader in the moment. Most writers are avid readers so you know what I am talking about. If a woman, for instance, is cooking a pot of stew and talking on the phone, you want the smell of the broth, the sounds going on around her, like the birds singing outside or what she is saying to the party on the other end of the phone, the heat rising from the pot, what her facial expressions are like, how the carrots feel in her hand as she chops them. Do you see what I mean? Just pretend you are a camera recording an event. That was really the MAIN thing that I never forgot.

Now here are two books that I recommend over all others for beginning writers: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and Dare to Be a Great Writer by Leonard Bishop. I found both of these at the public library, though the link above will lead you to a paperback copy of Bishop’s book for a little over $2.00. It is an older book, but the advice is timeless. Both books are down to earth, easy to understand, filled with humor and moral insight, and the best frigging advice I could direct you to.