Five Books for New Writers 

Quite often, I hear,

"I want to be a writer, but I don't know where to start."

My answer is always the same,

"You begin, as with any other art form, by studying the art form."

Then I recommend five books that I hope will be of great help in their literary journey. And here they are (in no particular order), five books every beginner must read:

1. The Courage to Write, Ralph Keyes

This is an excellent place to start if you are doubtful of your ability and require a serious courage adjustment.

"In The Courage to Write, Ralph Keyes, an author who has taught writing for more than thirty years, assures us that anxiety is felt by writers at every level, especially when they dare to do their best. He describes the sequence of "courage points" through which all writers must pass, from the challenge of identifying a worthwhile project to the mixture of pride and panic they feel when examining a newly published book or article.

Keyes also offers specifics on how to root out the dread of public "performance" and of the judgment of family and friends, make the best use of writers' workshops and conferences, and handle criticism of works in progress. Throughout, he includes the comments of many accomplished writers -- Pat Conroy, Amy Tan, Rita Dove, Isabel Allende, and others -- on how they transcended their own fears to produce great works."

"Fear is felt by writers at every level. Anxiety accompanies the first word they put on paper and the last."
- Ralph Keyes, The Courage to Write

 Get your copy here. 

2. Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott

This book will give you some priceless advice on how to deal with writer's block, perfectionism, and the author even permits you to write those crappy first drafts.

"For a quarter-century, more than a million readers—scribes and scribblers of all ages and abilities—have been inspired by Anne Lamott’s hilarious, big-hearted, homespun advice. Advice that begins with the simple words of wisdom passed down from Anne’s father—also a writer—in the iconic passage that gives the book its title:

"Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird."

"I don't think you have time to waste not writing because you are afraid you won't be good at it."
- Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

 Get your copy here 

3. The Art of Fiction, David Lodge

This book provides you with exceptional insight into how literary devices work and how you can utilise them in your own writing.

"The art of fiction is considered under a wide range of headings, such as the Intrusive Author, Suspense, the Epistolary Novel, Time-shift, Magic Realism and Symbolism, and each topic is illustrated by a passage or two taken from classic or modern fiction. Drawing on writers as diverse as Henry James and Martin Amis, Jane Austen and Fay Weldon and Henry Fielding and James Joyce, David Lodge makes accessible to the general reader the richness and variety of British and American fiction. Technical terms, such as Interior Monologue, Metafiction, Intertextuality and the Unreliable Narrator, are lucidly explained and their applications demonstrated.

Bringing to criticism the verve and humour of his own novels, David Lodge has provided essential reading for students of literature, aspiring writers, and anyone who wishes to understand how literature works."

"Most narratives contain an element of surprise. If we can predict every twist in a plot, we are unlikely to be gripped by it."
- David Lodge, The Art of Fiction

 Get your copy here 

4. The Elements of Style, William Strunk Jr & E.B. White

Forget a must-read, this is a must-own. It is an excellent guide on English grammar and provides examples to explain each guideline. It also has a section of commonly misused words and expressions.

"This style manual offers practical advice on improving writing skills. Throughout, the emphasis is on promoting a plain English style. This little book can help you communicate more effectively by showing you how to enliven your sentences."

"When a sentence is made stronger, it usually becomes shorter. Thus, brevity is a by-product of vigor."
- William Strunk Jr, The Elements of Style

 Get your copy here 

5. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Renni Browne & Dave King

A superb book for tips on how to edit your manuscript and what pitfalls to look out for. If you're an indie-author, put this at the top of your list.

"Hundreds of books have been written on the art of writing. Here, at last, is a book by two professional editors to teach writers the techniques of the editing trade that turn promising manuscripts into published novels and short stories." 

"In this completely revised and updated second edition, Renni Browne and Dave King teach you, the writer, how to apply the editing techniques they have developed to your own work. Chapters on dialogue, exposition, point of view, interior monologue, and other techniques take you through the same processes an expert editor would go through to perfect your manuscript. Each point is illustrated with examples, many drawn from the hundreds of books Browne and King have edited."

"Describing your action too precisely can be as condescending as describing your characters’ emotions. Far better to give your readers some hints and then allow them to fill in the blanks for themselves."
- Renni Browne, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers