Read Your Way to Better Writing

Hello, Story Empire Readers. Joan here today. For those who live in the United States, I hope you had a fun-filled July 4th celebration.

Today, I’m going to talk about continuing education. Doesn’t exactly sound like fun, but bear with me. My daytime job is in the field of healthcare. Nurses, physicians, lab techs, even coders must have a certain number of continuing education units in order to renew their licenses each year.

As writers, continuing education isn’t required, but I believe we should strive to become better with each article, short-story, or novel we pen. There are a number of ways we can do this, the first of which is “just write.” The more we write, the more the edit, the more we refine, the better our writing will become.

Another way is to read and follow blogs such as Story Empire (Wink, wink.) There are a number of blogs that I follow on a regular basis and have learned much from reading articles from seasoned writers.

However, today I’m going to talk about a few of my favorite writing books. While I admit I would much rather read a good novel, there are times when it’s necessary to read a non-fiction “how to book.” Below is a list of a few books that have helped me in my writing journey.

  • Write Your Novel from the Middle – by James Scott Bell. I’ve purchased many of JSB’s books on writing and have found all of them useful. Although the approach of writing from the middle sounds a bit unorthodox, Bell’s book provides useful information for both plotters and pansters.
  • Plot and Structure – James Scott Bell. This book gives techniques to craft strong beginnings, middles, and endings as well as brainstorming techniques, thought-provoking exercises, and more.
  • The Busy Writers Guides – Marcy Kennedy. Marcy has written a number of these short, easy-to-read books. I’ll not list them all, but among them are Deep Point of View, Internal Dialogue, Strong Female Characters, and Description. Visit Marcy’s Amazon page for a complete list.
  • Writing Book Blurbs and Synopses – Rayne Hall. In my opinion, writing a book blurb or synopsis is harder than writing a complete novel. Hall (no relation) explains the difference and provides examples.
  • The Emotion Thesaurus – Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. I can’t say enough about this book. If you’re looking to show rather than tell a character’s emotion, this is a great resource. Ackerman and Puglisi have also penned The Negative Trait Thesaurus and The Positive Trait Thesaurus, both of which I also recommend. And if you’d like a quick all-in-one resource check out their One Stop for Writers page (no affiliate).

These are just a few of the writing books I have on my bookshelf. What are some of your favorite resources? Please share in the comments.

35 thoughts on “Read Your Way to Better Writing

  1. Good points, Joan. You should never stop learning, no matter what the subject happens to be. I too have writing books, Scrivener Essentials, the Negative Trait Thesaurus, The Positive Trait Thesaurus, and several others.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: May It Be A Good One! | From the Pen of Mae Clair

  3. Great suggestions, Joan! Love the Emotional Thesaurus. Donald Maass has a number of great books out there; currently reading “The Emotional Craft of Fiction”. “The First Five Pages” by Noah Lukeman is another good one. So many great craft books, so little time 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t have any books on writing, I do, however, have copies of articles that I have printed to make me a better writer. I even have one that is supposed to help me earn money writing…let’s see how that story ends!

    Liked by 1 person

    • If you start making tons of money, let us know! Seriously, there are some who will promise the moon and in reality, they’re all saying the same thing. And what works for one writer may not work for another (money making wise).

      I mostly use the books for reference now, but when I was first learning the craft of writing, these were extremely helpful to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve purchased WAY too many books which are collecting dust! Much respect to academics, but sometimes you just need some straight talk. LOL! However, when I find one that is truly helpful I’m all in! I have two by Rayne and three by Marcy. I’m also a big fan of the Emotion Thesaurus, Bryan Cohen’s How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis, and Nicholas Rossis’ Emotional Beats. Recently added Harmony’s Polish Your Prose and wish I knew about it a year ago. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Nice post, Joan. I keep the Emotional Thesaurus on my desk at all times along with Emotional Beats by Nicholas Rossis. Great resource books. I am reading Stephen King’s book “On Writing” and of course, he’s direct and pulls no punches! Thanks for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jan – most every writer I know recommends Stephen King’s book. And I’m like you, I keep The Emotion Thesaurus nearby when I’m writing. I haven’t read Emotional Beats, but it sounds like one to add to my collection.


  7. I admit I’m not one for craft books, although at one point in my life I devoured them in bulk. I’ve heard only good things about James Scott Bell, and I’m a fan of the Emotion Thesaurus. I definitely want to check out the link you provided. Stephen King’s “On Writing” is on my shelf and on my read list. As for a book to have handy when writing I also recommend Nicholas C. Rossi’s Emotional Beats. It’s a bit like the Emotion Thesaurus. I keep both of them handy when writing.

    Great post, Joan!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mae, I don’t read the how to books as often as I once did. But I wouldn’t part with The Emotion Thesaurus! And yes, King’s book is a must (I should have mentioned it.) Jan also recommended Emotional Beats. I’m off to Amazon to check it out!

      Liked by 1 person

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