Thursday, May 17, 2007

13 Writing Books I Can't Live Without

It was tough cutting this list down to thirteen. Many books come and go, but I have a host of wonderful books on the writing profession that I keep in my permanent collection. Listed here are books in the areas of writing, promotion and legal as they pertain to the creative writing profession. Please list your favorites in the “Comments” section.

Thirteen Things about 13 Writing Books I Can’t Live Without

1. How I Write, by Janet Evanovich and Ina Yalof. This is a good, basic book on writing a novel.

2. Starting from Scratch: A Different Kind of Writers Manual, by Rita Mae Brown. This writing book is unique in that the author looks at the big picture of the life of the author and keeping that in balance, along with some fantastic writing tips. Highly recommended.

3. Writing the Romantic Comedy, by Billy Mernit. This is currently my favorite writing book. Don’t let the title deceive you. Mernit’s seven beats can be applied to any story, regardless of genre or format. Thus, it’s not just for those writing a romantic comedy screenplay. I refer to it on a regular basis for story analysis and examples.

4. The Hero with a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell. Campbell studied different cultures throughout history and discovered a lot of common themes. George Lucas utilized Campbell’s work when he was creating the first “Star Wars” movies. Another author wrote a book based upon Campbell’s work, but I prefer the original. The adventure of the hero and the cosmogonic cycle are explained in detail, citing historical examples.

5. How to Be Funny, by Steve Allen. This book is a wonderful tool, not only for actors and stand-up comedians, but for any writer wanting to incorporate more humor in his or her writing. It takes a serious look at creating and performing comedy.

6. What to Name Your Baby, by Maxwell Nurnberg and Morris Rosenblum. Everything has meaning. Names often give a profound insight into a person. I like this book because it’s fairly extensive, but find any baby name book that you feel drawn to and it will help you in your character research. Some useful baby names sites on the Web include:, Baby Names World and the Social Security Administration has the 1,000 most popular baby names for every year beginning in 1880.

7. The Elements of Grammar, by Margaret Shertzer. This is a great grammar tool.

8. Story, by Robert McKee. My critique partner was not fond of this book because it’s very analytical. I mean SERIOUSLY analytical. It’s not a book I read cover-to-cover, but I often refer to it for reference when I need help with the structure of my story.

9. How to Write Irresistible Query Letters, by Lisa Collier Cool. This little book packs a lot of useful information on query letter writing as well as other aspects of the publishing business, including rights often purchased in a literary contract.

10. Be Your Own Literary Agent, by Martin P. Levin. This is a great resource for promotion and for gaining insight into the literary agent’s job.

11. The Savvy Author’s Guide to Book Publicity, by Lissa Warren. This is a nice basic guide to book publicity, containing general tips on promotion, interview tips, and specifics of the book publicity process.

12. The Copyright Handbook, by Stephen Fishman. If you don’t like a lot of legalese (the author is an attorney), you might not like this book. However, if you want to know more about copyright law, how it applies to written works and what it means to you, this book will succinctly tell you everything you want to know.

13. Negotiating a Book Contract: A Guide for Authors, Agents and Lawyers, by Mark L. Levine. This is a guide for authors, agents and attorneys. I think this book should be in every professional writer’s library. The author is an attorney, and a lot of contract examples are listed. It contains a wealth of information concerning the main clauses in a publishing contract. It’s complete, concise and will answer many of your publishing contract questions.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Blogger Elizabeth Parker said...

Diana, great new look to your blog. I love your pics. Lots of fun stuff here. :)

5:12 PM  
Blogger Diana Celesky said...


Thank you for them kind words, ma'am. Let me know if you have any favorite Web sites you find useful to writers, and I'll add them to the links section. I like having a bunch of them grouped together so I can move around quickly when I'm writing and researching at the same time. I like feeding those multiple personalities simultaneously.

8:26 AM  
Blogger Kristi said...

Great list, Diana... I also like Stephen King's On Writing (though it's not so much how-to and how-I-did)... and there's also a lot of good information in Leslie Wainger's "dummies" book. I love those two!

Happy TT!

PS, I haven't forgotten about the romance novel (either of 'em)...but I'm finding I have to actually schedule time for them!

11:41 AM  
Blogger Melissa Marsh said...

A couple of books I love...

Brenda Ueland's IF YOU WANT TO WRITE

Julia Cameron's THE RIGHT TO WRITE


5:31 PM  
Blogger Diana Celesky said...

Thanks for the suggestions, Melissa. I'll check those out. I liked Julia Cameron's earlier book, The Artist's Way.

3:53 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home