Finally! Here’s my list of the best writing books in 2013.
At first glance, this book doesn’t seem like it would be a shoe-in for a book writing award. For one, it was published five years ago but only has 20 (4.5-star) reviews on Amazon. Even I didn’t have high hopes when I read the Table of Contents—nothing jumped out at me (although Morrell definitely won brownie points with some of her chapter titles: “Tragedy Doesn’t Equal Memoir: Writing Life Stories that Readers Cannot . . . . . . “). But despite my initial misgivings, I gobbled up the nearly four-hundred-page book in a matter of days. A great read!
This book is another underdog on Amazon. It was published over ten years ago but only has fifteen reviews. Keyes’ first writing book, The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear, is more popular than this one. I’ve read both and my advice is to read one or the other. Perhaps I prefer The Writer’s Book of Hope because I read it first and so was less wowed by the time I got to The Courage to Write. Both books, in my opinion, discuss the same concept. But I would definitely recommend reading at least one of them, especially after the beating you’ll get from Morrell in Thanks, But This Isn’t for Us.
Write Every Day: How to Writer Faster, and Write More by Cathy Yardley
I read this 92-page e-book in one sitting. It’s like the writing version of a coach’s pep talk before the big game; it’ll make you go screaming from the locker room to crush your opponent, or in this case, your inner critic. I especially love that Yardley doesn’t pad her writing books with unnecessary fluff.
This one is an obvious winner given that I have written four lengthy posts on how the methods in this book helped Rowling create complex plots and deep characters. If you haven’t read them yet, here’s the first of the four posts.
And now for my number one writing book in 2013. Although it’s not technically a writing book, it’s helped my writing a ton:
Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence by David Keirsey
This is a psychology textbook that was originally published back in the late ’70s and then revamped in 1998. I never thought I’d say this about a psychology textbook but: It’s Awesome.
Keirsey begins the book with a quote by Henry David Thoreau:
If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
Thoreau understood that writing is all about understanding people. If you don’t understand people, you cannot write believable fiction (or nonfiction, for that matter).
In three hundred pages of fascinating detail, Keirsey delves into everything you can imagine about the sixteen different personality types: their interests, values, self-image, social roles, word usage, mating and parenting styles, even their sexual inclinations (you know you want to read it now). He somehow manages to be both sweepingly broad yet painstakingly detailed in his descriptions.
One of Rowling’s particular strengths as a writer is her ability to depict so many different types of people in a very believable way. In the Harry Potter series, she went deeper than looks and mannerisms. She created characters with complex wants, needs, motives, and temperaments.
So if you’re looking to step up your writing game, check out Please Understand Me II.
And if you missed last year’s list of best writing books, you can read it here.