10 Books to Supplement Your Next Writing Workshop
by Writing Workshops Staff
A year ago
Like most skills in life, the best way to become a great writer is simply by practicing as much as possible. When you sign up for one of our workshops, we’ll guide your journey as you master the craft – whether it be a new novel, screenplay, or memoir that you’re setting out to write.
However, you can get even more out of these workshops by supplementing your practice with some light reading material.
Here are ten books to study if you want to add extra depth to your writing practice:
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King
How did Stephen King become one of the most notable names in the history of modern literature? In this memoir, you’ll discover the toolbox used by one of the most prolific authors of the last 50 years. King uses On Writing to reveal the deeply personal aspects of his craft, while simultaneously gripping readers in a relatable tale and sharing the essentials behind developing mastery as a writer.
Wired for Story, Lisa Cron
We often become so wrapped up by the story we want to tell that we forget about the readers who will be digesting its contents. In Wired for Story, Lisa Cron returns us to reality with an easy-to-read workbook that teaches writers how to grab a reader’s attention from the very first sentence. We recommend (re)visiting this book before sitting down to pen your upcoming novel. It’s a solid guide to making sure the theme, plot, and protagonist are working synergistically to reveal the depths of your story and hook your readers from the start.
Dialogue, Robert McKee
Whether you’re developing characters in a 500-page thriller or sketching out a 30-minute screenplay, the conversations between them can make or break the credibility of your work. Robert McKee shares an in-depth guide to crafting dialogue that is both gripping and believable, no matter your preferred medium.
Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott
What’s just as important as mastering basic grammar, engaging dialogue, and a gripping plot? You guessed it – allowing yourself room to fail. Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird is a classic masterpiece that’s sold volume after volume for years – and for good reason. In this book, you’ll find both the essential lessons behind what makes a good writer, and the encouragement you need to revisit the page after every setback.
Zen in the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury
Equal parts a how-to writing guide and a personal tale of inspiration, every aspiring writer should have a copy of this masterful book by one of the most celebrated authors of all time. Bradbury shares practical tips on honing your voice and developing original ideas, while infusing each page with a broiling passion that will spark creativity in any of its readers.
Thrill Me, Benjamin Percy
Thrill Me is a tour-de-force for fiction writers who are eager to craft a novel, or collection of short stories, that will grip their reader from the first sentence onward. In this book, Percy masterfully dissects both literary and genre elements from a variety of contemporary writers, compelling the reader with the universal truths that create a thrilling story.
The Art of Memoir, Mary Karr
We all have our own unique stories worth committing to the page. However, transforming the twists and turns of your own life narrative into a tale of empathy and inspiration is more easily said than done. In The Art of Memoir, acclaimed author Mary Karr breaks down her process for crafting riveting and digestible accounts. With Karr as your guide, you’lll discover as much about your own understanding of the past as you will the literary elements that make a memoir at once cathartic and relatable.
The Forest for the Trees, Betsy Lerner
As a professional writer, it can be easy to forget the bigger picture, focusing more on a dangling participle than the imminent need to find a publishing house. In her classic book The Forest for the Trees, Betsy Lerner acts as both an empathetic and insightful coach to writers looking to amp their productivity and get their works published.
Betwixt-And-Between: Essays on the Writing Life, Jenny Boully
The life of a writer is a powerful pendulum that swings between the forces of connection and isolation, hope and despair, and beginnings and ends. In this bewitching series of essays, Boully ushers you into the most intimate and relatable recesses of her mind and life, while providing unforgettable instruction and profound advice for navigating your own relationship with the written word.
The Elements of Style, William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
This book might be more than a century old, but it still holds up as one of the most critical reads for aspiring writers. There’s a reason why TIME named it one of the most influential books of the last 100 years; William Strunk Jr. and E.B. Write provide an extensive roadmap for mastering the English language. We recommend every writer revisit The Elements of Style to brush up on grammar, spelling, and writing fundamentals.
All ten of these books will touch your heart and inspire your creativity as a writer. We recommend diving into each more than once, as you continue on your journey to mastering your craft.