Type “books to read if you want to write a novel” into any search engine, and you’ll get thousands of recommendations for first time writers. But what should you read if you’re already working on your first novel?
Here are five of our favorites:
- Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones
Poet Natalie Goldberg’s first book on writing was published in 1986, and like good Scotch, it’s improved with time. Goldberg’s method of combining Zen reflection with practical writing advice can help you get “unstuck” at exactly the right moment by seeing writing as a process and a joy—not a slog.
- Michael S. Monje Jr., The US Book
You already know what writing every day does for you, even as a first time writer. But what do you want those words to do for your reader? The US Book is a profound object lesson in words as music, as architecture, and as tools that change the world.
- Blake Snyder, Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need
Don’t intend to write for the screen? Blake Snyder has your back anyway. His 15-count “beat” structure, outlined in Save the Cat!, forms the backbone of any strong feature-length plot—like, say, that of a novel. If you know where you’re going but you’re not sure how to get there, this book can help you locate the signposts.
- Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
If you want something to read that won’t mess up your flow or bleed over into your plot (probably), Pirsig’s classic meditation on the meaning and purpose of Quality can help you appreciate the process of writing—and your product—in an entirely new way.
- The Spoon Knife Anthology Series
Released yearly, the Spoon Knife Anthology series features some of the best writing from established and first time writers in the science fiction, spec fic, and weird fiction fields. Choose the Spoon Knife whose theme is closest to your own work, or browse them all to find inspiration and see the craft in action.