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  • S.M. Ryan

6 Books For Writers

6 books from my bookshelf that I like to recommend for writers

If there's one thing I love, it's books on writing.


While I think some books on writing are just repeating things from other books and sometimes I don't personally feel like I'm learning anything new, there are times when I find great books on writing that have genuinely helped me grow as a writer in different ways and I keep those close by.


I love books that I can continuously reference as reminders and learning points regardless of where I am in my writing process or where I am in my writing journey.


I picked these six books to recommend with the intention of them being able to help any writer at any stage in their writing through this Preptober process, or with their writing in general.

Writing into the Dark: How to Write a Novel Without an Outline by Dean Wesley Smith

I've mentioned this one before in my reading wrap-up a few months ago and it's a popular one that makes its rounds as being recommended in the writing community.


Smith gives a good run-through of the way he pants his own work and how it can be applied to your own.


In my opinion, It's a workable pantsing system that can be easily adapted by writers who already pants their writing or for planners who are thinking about venturing into pantsing.


I found it helpful as it helped me add to my pantsing process and find the sweet middle spot (for me) between planning and pantsing.


I already find myself turning back to it now and again if I feel like I'm overlooking something or just want to remind myself I don't need to have every small detail beforehand.


There are a lot of good nuggets in this one.


5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter by Chris Fox

This is another book from the same reading wrap up a few months ago and is a quick read with actionable activities at the end of each section.


Now, let me say I'm not usually one for books that want me to do things along with them.


However.


Fox takes the familiar method of writing sprints and breaks down how to use them to increase your word count for when you're sprinting.


At first, I didn't think it was useful and I was almost a little annoyed I even spent the money but then I gave it a chance -- it was already here.


There's a lot of benefit in following the exercises as you read through the book, regardless of how familiar you are with writing sprints or how long you've been doing them because -- at least for me -- it's a good way to go in and access where I am with my hourly word count and then finding ways I can increase that.


Coming back to it once a month since reading it has already helped me pick up my writing pace. The author also has a youtube channel with a lot of good writing advice.

The Emotion Thesaurus: a Writers Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

I fucking love this book.


A - I love reference books and they will soon have their own section in my personal library, I'm alright with this.


B - This book specifically is really great throughout all stages of the writing process because I really keeps me from writing things like:

"I let out a breath I didn't know I was holding,"

because I'd bang my head into this keyboard if I did.


Instead, this book gives you lists of physical signals, internal sensations, mental reactions, and what it would the emotion would look like in action to keep you from using that line anywhere in your manuscript. True to being a thesaurus, it gives you other words to reference with another list of ways to show the emotion in your writing.


I love this one for when I'm writing and especially when I'm editing.


The Emotional Craft Of Fiction: How to Write the Story Beneath the Surface


I read this book once a few years ago and it's on my TBR list as one I intend to reread soon because it taught me how to ask different kinds of questions of my story and protagonist as I went about writing my stories.


Though whether you pants or plot it doesn't matter because this book just walks us through questions that helps us remember to consider the emotion of the moment and plot points that make the stories what we want them to be.


I like recommending this book because it's helped add depth to my stories and improved my writing overall.




The Writer's Idea Thesaurus by Fred White

This one is just full story ideas and I love it.


I'm not always strapped for inspiration but when I am, this is one of my go-to grabs to get a story idea or prompt I can play with.


I also don't think prompts are limited to being used only as a story starter but I think they can also be used as points or ideas you can incorporate into what you're already writing if you're stuck or just feel like something is missing.


As with all prompts and story seeds, they are there to use however you want, which means switching it up or taking a tiny piece, whatever. It's a book of ideas you can flip through when you feel strapped for your own.


Master Lists For Writers by Bryn Donovan

So when I first got this book, I was a tiny bit disappointed because it wasn't what I thought it was going to be though I'm not exactly sure what I thought it was going to be.


Unlike the book above this one, the format is less "here's a prompt" and more "Here's a list of a ton of things you can weave together or not".


I find myself reaching for this much more than I thought I would because things are organized in a way that lets me look at names from certain decades, and the prompts don't all suggest happy endings or even a happy plot point, which is fun.


I usually dig into this for character traits, names, and short practice writing ideas for when I want to write something quick and fun just for me.

Let me know in the comments down below if you've read any of these or have recommendations of your own. I love a good book about writing.


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