Here are a few books, which I’ve found helpful during my writing career. I’ll add to them as I find any more I’d recommend.
On Writing by Stephen King
This book is both entertaining and useful. The first half contains an autobiography of the great man, told in his own words, and it made me laugh out loud at times. Hearing his story is very inspiring (particularly the scene where he finds out Carrie – his first novel – has sold!) and always gives me hope. The second section talks about the ‘toolbox’ of skills a writer needs so make sure you pay good attention to this bit! (ISBN 0-340-76998-x)
Successful Novel Plotting by Jean Saunders
This is another great book, which takes you through the steps and stages of plotting a novel, without being dry or sounding too preachy. Jean has an impressive back catalogue (written under a series of pen names) and so her tips and advice come with authority and many years of experience. Sadly she died in 2011, but thankfully her good advice lives on through this work, which was published in 2009. It’s certainly helped me to look at plotting in a different light. (ISBN 978-1906373627)
Writing Crime Fiction by Janet Laurence
I return to this book over and over again whenever I’m struggling with my writing. It contains practical tips and advice, but in each chapter, Janet sets a writing exercise to get your creative juices flowing. The book focuses mostly on the actual writing of crime, but does also have a chapter at the end about selling your book (thus fulfilling it’s subtitle ‘Making crime pay’!). A definite must for any crime writer’s bookshelf. (ISBN 978-1-84285-088-6)
Writing Mysteries edited by Sue Grafton with Jan Burke and Barry Zeman
A real find, this book covers every aspect of mystery writing you could want, and in short chapters so you can dip in and out whenever the need strikes. It’s from the Mystery Writers of America so it features chapters from some really big names like Michael Connelly, Tess Gerritsen and Jonathan Kellerman – and if you can’t trust the advice these big-hitters offer, who can you trust? Always learn from the best! (ISBN 978-1-58297-102-5)
Give Me Time by The Mind Gym
Not a writing guide, I know, but this is a great book for anyone struggling to carve out time in their day for writing. It’s a general time management guide and gives some great advice on recognising how you use time, how you waste time and how you can make time work for you. Don’t be put off by the irritatingly cheery cover, it’s a great book! (ISBN 978-0316731690)
If you’re feeling distracted and unable to focus on anything – particularly creative work – then this book is definitely for you. It’s
broken down into 20 chapters and gives you tips and ideas for getting away from information overload so you can concentrate on what really matters to you. There’s also advice on creating a daily or weekly routine that works for you, how to control the digital world around you and tools to sharpen your creative mind. I bought the Kindle version of this but I almost wish I’d spent more and bought the paperback so I could make notes as I went along. I found the routine creation section to be helpful, but I’d recommend the whole book as an excellent read.