Improve My Craft: Reading Books on Writing

January 9, 2018


As I said in my last post, one of my writing goals for 2018 is to improve my craft; that is, become a better writer. While practice is arguably the best way to improve at anything, it can only get you so far. As my basketball coach used to say, practice doesn't make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect. Just like a coach might assess and correct your free-throw form, we as writers must learn to assess and correct our own work. This is a learned skill, and one of the best ways to learn it is from an expert. Like, say, someone who wrote a book on it.


I've committed to reading, analyzing, and learning from 12 different craft books this year, delving into one a month. The books I've selected weren't exactly chosen at random, but there's no special rhyme or reason to them, either. Mostly I picked the ones I've heard recommended a few times.


I have, of course, read craft books before, which is why some obvious ones (like Stephen King's On Writing) aren't on the list. And I certainly don't intend to stop learning after these 12 books. They're just a starting point, is all. Or maybe more of a launching point.


In order, from January to December, these are the books I'll be studying this year:



Story, by Robert McKee


Screenwriting Tricks for Authors, by Alexandra Solokoff


Plot and Structure, by James Scott Bell


Getting into Character, by Brandilyn Collins


How to Write Bestselling Fiction, by Dean Koontz


Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maass


Dialogue, by Robert McKee


Stein on Writing, by Sol Stein


Hooked, by Les Edgerton


The Writing Life, by Marie Arana


The Story Grid, by Shawn Coyne


The Anatomy of Story, by John Truby



I'll be reviewing each book at month's end, and will hopefully glean a few nuggets from each. I'm reading Story right now, and I already love it. Here's hoping the rest will be as good.

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