a stack of books on a wood coffee table with a grey couch in the background

We’re so often told to read, read, read to learn how to write better.

But what does that really mean.

Well, I think it means three things:

  1. Read the type of books that you want to write (such as swoony, spicy romance novels).

    This helps you learn the tropes and the rhythms of the genre you write it. You want to know your genre and subgenres inside and out to be able to write it well. If you want to publish and have readers buy your book and give it favourable reviews, this helps you learn what readers expect.

  2. Read books outside your normal genre.

    This might seem weird to you. It seems counterintuitive doesn’t it? But bear with me. Reading outside your genre teaches you a ton about story. It makes you a much more well-rounded writer. When you’re not used to the tropes or rhythms of a genre, things about the story and the writing are more likely to catch you off guard. You can learn so much about story structure, character development and creating a rich setting from reading other writers in other genres.

  3. Read writing craft books.

    The goal of these books is to teach you about writing. What better way to learn something than to read a book about it, right? Books on writing come in many, many forms. Some are how-to’s that break down specific aspects of writing, some are discussions on the writing or creative life, and some are hilarious or ridiculous compilations of anecdotes about being a writer. All of them have value.

Here are 11 writing craft books that you might want to pick up. (Eleven books for the eleventh month! ha!)

Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence by Lisa Cron

Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody

Romancing the Beat: Story Structure for Romance Novels by Gwen Hayes

Take Off Your Pants! Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing by Libbie Hawker

Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere) by Lisa Cron

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story by K.M. Weiland

The Emotional Craft of Fiction: How to Write with Emotional Power, Develop Achingly Real Characters, Move Your Readers, and Create Riveting Moral Stakes by Donald Maass

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King

Grab one of these books from your local bookstore or library if you can. Those are my favourite places to get books.

Have you read any of these? Which is your favourite?