It’s no surprise that the single most important thing you can do if you want to be an author is write (and then write some more). The second most important thing is to read. While most authors benefit from reading widely within the genre they want to write in, there are some fantastic books that can provide both instruction and inspiration to aspiring authors. Books that can help you:
- Learn the art of storytelling.
- Develop your writing craft.
- Dig deep into character, plot, and setting.
- Finish your book and officially write The End.
5 books for aspiring writers
Don’t let the word “screenwriting” stop you. If you want to tell a good story — whether in the form of a screenplay, a novel, a play, or something else — this is a must-read.
In this book, world-renowned screenwriting instructor and story consultant Robert McKee takes you through what makes a good story, explaining how and why different stories just seem to work. You’ll also learn the foundations of storytelling, from story structure to genre to character development.
Yes, the examples are most often from film, but the story lessons are universal.
The title is Libbie Hawker’s call to the “pantsers” of the world — those writers who forgo a writing plan and instead write “by the seat of their pants” — to try a different technique. She suggests outlining or “plotting” your novel before starting to write. This easy-to-digest book is perfect for a new author interested in learning about story and character arcs as well as plotting and pacing.
It’s a quick read, so you can get back to the important thing: writing.
Written by literary agent and fiction instructor Donald Maas, this book drives home the point that to be compelling, a story must take the reader on an emotional journey. As an author, you need to think not only about what your characters are feeling, but also about what your readers are experiencing as they engage with your story elements.
Whether you’re a plotter, a “pantser,” or somewhere in the middle, this valuable series of lessons on craft will teach you how to add depth and invoke emotions that will make your books resonate with your readers.
Perhaps one of the most popular books on writing due to the popularity of its author, Stephen King provides a look at his own writing journey — along the way sharing inspiration and practical tools for both aspiring and established writers.
As King says (because you can’t say it much better than this!): “Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life as well … this book … is a permission slip: you can, you should, and if you're brave enough to start, you will. Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled up.”
Ready to hear from a bestselling author about not only craft but also the writing life? Look no further. Bird by Bird is a mix of memoir and how-to book you won’t see anywhere else. Filled with anecdotes, personal stories, and lessons, Lamott’s book is considered a classic because it resonates with so many writers.
Check out the audiobook to learn about the power of an imperfect first draft, the benefits of a writing routine, the importance of morality in writing, and the value of a supportive writing community.
About the Author: Kelsey Fritts
Kelsey is a writer, editor, anthropologist, and bookworm. She's also the author of two young adult fantasy novels. When she's not out exploring in nature or playing with her ridiculously spoiled dog, you can find Kelsey curled up with a mug of hot cocoa and a novel—likely one by Laini Taylor, Leigh Bardugo, N.K. Jemisin, Margaret Atwood, or Ursula K. Le Guin.