If you’ve reached this page, then you have something special in common with BJ… a love for the written word, and a passion to create relevant, high-quality stories.
Below you’ll find a book list, chosen with you in mind, and annotated by BJ. These books contain powerful advice to help you hone your skills.
If you’d like more information about the life and craft of a writer, don’t miss BJ’s Grace Notes blog. On the blog, BJ provides in-depth insights into topics such as:
and much more.
Suggested Books for Writers from BJ Hoff:
Books for writers and aspiring writers–or books for those who are simply interested in learning more about the craft itself–are available on a variety of accomplishment levels, for beginners to published professionals.
There are books that focus on specific genres; books that concentrate on the technical aspects of writing; books that explore some of the philosophical approaches to writing; books that outline the basics and books that provide in-depth studies.
Obviously no one list can cover everything, so here I’m providing a list of the fifteen books I think would prove most helpful for those who either aspire to write or have been writing for some time but want to advance their craft.
Many of these contain bibliographies for further reading. Some are among my personal favorites, while others have been recommended as favorites by other authors. What this list doesn’t include are market guides, usage guides, editing guides, grammar or other “technical” guides on plotting, characterization, etc
Note: Some of the older titles may be out of print, but usually can be purchased from various internet bookstores.
Between the Lines. Jessica Page Morrell. The subtitle of this book is “Master the Subtle Elements of Fiction Writing”, and that’s exactly what it attempts to help the writer accomplish.
Write Away: One Novelist’s Approach to Fiction and the Writing Life. Elizabeth George.
A detailed overview of the craft of fiction by an excellent author and teacher.
Modern Library’s Writer’s Workshop: A Guide to the Craft of Fiction. Stephen Koch. An excellent guide and handbook, rich in wisdom and the study of craft.
Gotham Writers’ Workshop: Writing Fiction
A thorough approach to the elements of writing fiction, complete with exercises to help the writer apply the information.
The Craft of Writing. William Sloane. A collection taken from many of Sloane’s lectures at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and from his correspondence with writers. An eloquent little book crammed with profound insights. A personal favorite.
Techniques of the Selling Writer. Dwight V. Swain. Another “classic” from one of the finest fiction writing instructors ever. Rich in solid advice and instruction.
The Art of Fiction. John Gardner. It may be unnecessary to even include a list of Gardner’s books on fiction, since he’s read and taught so widely that most writers are familiar with his work. But just in case, I’m including a few of his works, which are exceedingly rich in principles and instruction.
On Becoming a Novelist. John Gardner. In this classic guidebook, Gardner covers the writer’s nature, training and education, publication and survival,and faith.
On Moral Fiction. John Gardner. Essays on art and morality.
Writing Fiction. Janet Burroway. Instruction in the craft and examples from writers of excellence.
Fiction Writer’s Handbook. Hallie and Whit Burnett.
Erskine Caldwell referred to this book as “inspiring, instructive, and invaluable”. It is all that. An in-depth guide with much practical advice for writing novels and short stories. Another “classic” from two noted teachers and former co-editors of Story Magazine.
The Christian Imagination. Edited by Leland Ryken. A book of reflections that covers all of the essential topics related to literature and writing as viewed from Christian perspectives. (Leland Ryken.)
Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art. Madeleine L’Engle.
A book which reveals something new each time it’s read. A must-read for writers whose faith is an integral part of their work.
Mystery and Manners. Flannery O’Connor. Articles, essays, and lectures from O’Connor with prose selections (compiled by Sally and Robert Fitzgerald). You can hear O’Connor’s voice in these works. Another personal favorite.
On Writing. Stephen King. Written by a master storyteller, this is a highly readable memoir filled with straight talk and good advice on writing.
Helpful Sites for Writers:
Resource sites for writers abound on the internet. Using your favorite search engine, you can find sites for almost any area of writing in which you’re interested. Below are just a few helpful places you might want to explore.
Library Spot- A resource for libraries, maps, and other research guides.
Publishers Weekly- Foremost trade magazine for the writing market
Sally Stuart’s Market Guide- A great resource for Christian writers.
How Stuff Works – Learn how everything works!
Charis Connection – A great blog where Christian writers post essays and thoughts on the writing life.
Christian Fiction Site – A great site for writers and readers interested in Christian fiction.
Dancing Word – Sister site to the Christian Fiction Site listed above. Another great resource for writing tips, author interviews, and workshops.
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