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Best Books for Writers

From the newly published to the invaluable classic, our list of essential books for creative writers.

by William Wallace Cook

Published in 2011 by Tin House Books

In his classic, originally published in 1928, William Wallace Cook analyzes the elements of compelling fiction, laying out his own approach to writing in painstaking detail, exemplified by hundreds of scenarios.

by Dinty W. Moore, editor

Published in 2012 by Rose Metal Press

Edited by Dinty W. Moore, who is also the longtime editor of Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction, this book features twenty-six essays by the genre's most established writers. Each essay is followed by an exercise or writing prompt to help readers apply to their own practice the ideas the essayists offer.

by Jack Myers

Published in 2004 by Wadsworth Publishing

Poet and professor Jack Myers explores the craft of poetry with an instructional guide on what goes into making a poem. The Portable Poetry Workshop offers a thorough look at the elements of good poetry, and offers practical advice about generating material, assembling metaphors, workshopping poems in a group, and more.

by Joseph M. Williams

Published in 1995 by University of Chicago Press

Joseph M. Williams offers a practical guide to improving one’s writing by focusing on the sentence and paragraph levels. Style: Toward Clarity and Grace includes strategies for identifying weak writing and using form as a way to approach revision.

by Verlyn Klinkenborg

Published in 2012 by Knopf

Verlyn Klinkenborg draws from his years of experience as a writer and teacher of writing to offer fresh pieces of wisdom about the writing process. Written in short prose bursts, Several Short Sentences About Writing provides tried-and-tested starting points, ideas, and experiments for writers at any level.

by Lee Gutkind

Published in 2012 by Da Capo Press

In this comprehensive how-to guide for the genre, Lee Gutkind, founder of Creative Nonfiction magazine, provides insights on writing creative nonfiction--from memoir to literary journalism and everything in between, including chapters on point of view, narrative, research, structure, and more.

by John B. Thompson

Published in 2010 by Polity Press

John B. Thompson presents an accessible overview of the book publishing business—from the changes in agenting to the conglomeration of publishing houses to the growth of the retail chains to the digital revolution. This book provides writers with an in-depth understanding of publishing's ecosystem, providing them with the background they need before taking their manuscript to market.

by Lia Purpura

Published in 2006 by Sarabande Books

In this collection of essays, poet Lia Purpura explores the act of observation as it relates the to the writer's endeavor. Purpura is an award-winning writer who teaches at the Rainier Writing Workshop MFA program in Tacoma, Washington.

by Barbara Abercrombie

Published in 2012 by New World Library

Novelist and essayist Barbara Abercrombie offers a collection of wide-ranging anecdotes, lessons, and prompts for beginning and veteran writers. A Year of Writing Dangerously devotes sections to writerly topics such as "failing better," mentorship, and keeping faith, and pairs each lesson with a quotation from a famous writer.

by Klara Glowczewska, editor

Published in 2007 by Penguin Books

This volume of travel writing contains twenty-one pieces pairing well known writers with their favorite exotic locales. Russell Banks writes on the Everglades, Francine Prose explores the secrets of Prague, Robert Hughes takes us on a tour of Italy, and more. The collection also includes practical advice and insider travel tips on the featured locations.

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