Helpful Books on Writing

Listed on this page are the writing books that I have found useful and the ones that I have mentioned in posts. I will be adding to the list from time to time..there are no affiliate links on this page. The links are only to the books that have served me well and which I genuinely recommend. 

Experimental Fiction  by Julie Armstrong – A good introduction to most important themes of experimental fiction in the 20th century. This book is reviewed on my blog post ‘Experimental Fiction’ (August 2015).

Writing Short Stories by Ailsa Cox – is one of my favourite writer’s guides, full of meaningful explanations and helpful exercises. It has helped me come up with new ways of writing stories and is one of the few books I have come across that provides guidelines on tackling the modern short story, using non-linear, image-based fiction, as well as cyberpunk and other such more unusual approaches to fiction.

The Novelist’s Guide by Margret Geraghty – is a book well worth having on your shelf. It’s a writers’ manual, written in a very accessible way, packed with good, clear advice, exercises and short extracts from novels. Despite the title, the book is not just for novelists but useful to all writers of fiction.

The Five Minute Writer by Margret Geraghty stimulates thought, then provides a exercise leading to an idea in just five minutes a day. Stacks of useful information, tips, variations on exercises and a good aid for getting into a writing routine.

The Creative Writer’s Workshop (5th Edition) by Cathy Birch – has a raft of exercises geared towards finding your own voice with some unusual approaches to explore your subconscious. It also includes games, right brained methods of recording information, ways of revamping old stories and much more.

Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft by Janet Burroway is quite a serious (and expensive) book initially designed to be used on University creative writing courses but full of solid advice and things to try. Each chapter is followed by suggestions for discussion and writing assignments.

The Writing Experiment: Strategies for Innovative Creative Writing by Hazel Smith – a stunning book chock full of challenging exercises with useful example to stimulate new ideas and encourage experimental writing. It covers a variety of genres and is intended for writers of all levels.

Your Writing Coach: From Concept to Character, from Pitch to Publication by Jurgen Wolff – packs in a lot of information and is quite wordy but the clear typeface the headings make it easy to find your way around. Each chapter is summed up at the end with a set of key points and the exercises that follow are short and useful. There are also ‘chapter bonus’ sections with links to a website that provides further information.

Writing For Your Life :A guide and companion to the inner worlds by Deena Metzger is more like a life coach for writers. It explores creativity, fairy tales and myths and writing as a spiritual practice. The book is intended to help you to look within yourself to find how your writing can shape you as a person and how silences can work against you. It is packed with exercises throughout.

Writing the Natural Way – Gabriele Rico.
This book is an eye opener for left brained, linear writers who would like to be more creative. And for anyone who finds writing hard work, this offers more joyful ways into it. As is claimed on the back of the book, this is a “master course in writing.” Clearly set out and offering exercises, explanations and writing samples, this book is a unique and refreshing approach to writing. I would recommend this for teachers of writing, too.

The Observation Deck: A Toolkit for Writers by Naomi Epel
– is a little, pocket sized book, offering writers ways “to find inspiration, develop self discipline and hone their craft” but to also to experiment. Each chapter has short anecdotes and stories and a series of suggestions for writing. It used to be available as a box set with a pack of cards but the book is often available by itself on the Internet. Have a look at Naomi Epel’s website on for more information and guidelines on how to set up a “Deck Group”.

Writing Fiction Step by Step
(1998) and the Fiction Writers Workshop (l995), both by Josip Novakovich are worth investigating. The first one is probably the most useful of the two, with good introductions to each chapter, numerous tips and examples and more than a dozen exercises at the end of each chapter.

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