Top 5 Best Books on Writing in 2013


Thanks, But This Isn’t for Us: A (Sort Of) Compassionate Guide to Why Your Writing is Being Rejected by Jessica Page Morrell

While this book seems to have gotten buried under the mounds of other writing books out there, it’s still a gem. Morrell’s advice is spot-on and—bonus points—she’s funny. I gobbled up the nearly four hundred pages in a matter of days.


The Writer’s Book of Hope: Getting from Frustration to Publication by Ralph Keyes

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; they pretty much cover the same concepts. But I would definitely recommend reading 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 little e-book in one sitting (I love that Yardley doesn’t pad her writing books with unnecessary fluff). Write Every Day is the writer’s version of an awesome pep talk before the big game.


Blueprint Your Bestseller: Organize and Revise Any Manuscript with the Book Architecture Method by Stuart Horwitz

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 for her Harry Potter series. If you haven’t read my posts yet, here’s the first of four.

And now for my number one writing book in 2013 (although it’s not technically a writing book):


Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence by David Keirsey

This is a psychology textbook that was originally published back in the late ’70s, then revamped in 1998. Keirsey begins his book with a quote from 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.

I chose this book as my number one pick because you cannot write incredible, believable fiction (or nonfiction, for that matter) if you do not have a deep understanding of people.

In three hundred fascinating pages, 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. He somehow manages to be both sweepingly broad yet painstakingly detailed.

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. Her Harry Potter characters go deeper than looks and mannerisms; she gave them 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, click here.)

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The Writing Life Is Much Less Exciting Than You Think

To be a writer, one must be willing to put up with the psychic demands of actually writing. Authors on talk shows emphasize their thrilling moments of triumph, not the months and years of monotony and malaise that preceded those moments. Movies about writers seldom succeed because their actual life is so much less interesting than fictionalized versions. As Virginia Woolf observed, the sense of creativity that “bubbles so pleasantly in the beginning of a new book” always subsides. Then a new, steadier type of energy is called for. Toward the end, she concluded, “determination not to give in . . . keeps one at it more than anything.”

– Ralph Keyes, The Writer’s Book of Hope