The list author says: "In my 30+ years as an author, writing teacher, editor and coach to hundreds of authors, I have found these 21 books (I couldn't find one from this list to remove) to be indispensable aids to providing the insight, inspiration and tools that all working writers need to attain excellence in their work – and, for those who seek it, publication. These books are like a matrix, touching upon all aspects of the writing experience – and providing plenty of examples and exercises along the way."
"Why does some dialogue feel like you're in the conversation, and some sounds wooden, made up? This book gives plenty of sage advice on writing dialogue that speaks from your characters, giving us insight, tone, voice, color – just like real life. Which is the point."
"In my opinion, this is the best book on punctuation and grammar for writers since Strunk & White's Elements of Style. In fact, PFW is the 21st century version -- which means, it belongs on every writer's desk."
"What better source to tap for the innermost secrets of writing than an author who has explored as much more of his mind and soul – good, bad and ugly – as any writer who's ever lived – and run it out in the form of a remarkable diversity of memorable books? This book is a gem."
"What I like about Bird by Bird, besides the fact it was written by one of the sweetest and most unassuming authors, is that Anne Lamott interweaves real life with the writing life every step of the way. Bird by Bird's vignettes and simple exercises crack open doors of discovery and ability, every time I pick it up."
"Before his death in the early 1980s, John Gardner was widely proclaimed to be the best writer teaching at the college level – or the best college professor writing literary fiction.You get the point. This is, in my estimation, the best presentation of fiction writing ever published. This book has the keys to the kingdom."
"Should be a companion piece to "The Art of Fiction." Shows the process of taking research, life experience, imagination and the first sentence of a story, and rolling them out into a novel – and transforming from a person writing stories to a novelist in the process."
"We write with our senses, and this book is an absolute celebration of the senses and their mighty powers, a veritable feast of the mind. It also deepens the connection between the reader and physical world, which aids writers in describing inner and outer life as processes of nature – and the senses."
"Colors are not only adjectives to describe the specific hues of objects,but also metaphors for many areas a writer explores – feelings, emotions, moods, the arts, characters, motives, lands and places. This book is a wonderful travel adventure – and a great history of the colors that create beauty in the world."
"I grabbed this book because I loved the title, and because I feel it provides missing-link level information for memoirists. Then I felt myself transforming as a writer with every passing page. Christina focuses on story, but here you have it: the way to weave experience, research, dreaming, daydreaming, imagination and self-exploration into stories that people won't put down."
"This book is on the list because it brings in every writer's greatest daily aide – the journal. A journal should be a chemistry lab for writers, and this book provides ways to plumb more deeply into our spiritual side, our essential selves, what makes us tick – and what prompts us to put pen to paper."
"A fairly hard-to-find book these days, "Writers Dreaming" features interviews with authors on their dreaming process – and how they formulated ideas based on dreams. It also shows how narrative and fiction writing closely resembles the dream in shape, form and the ability to run off in many directions – then get to the point. A gem."
"This book was a Writer's Digest Book Club release in the late 1980s. It's as relevant now as it was then. One of the best anthologies of working writers ever assembled, because the authors opened up all the way and released their secrets and strategies for turning ideas into stories – and changing worlds in the process."
"Joyce Carol Oates is one of my favorite authors. Her 1999 novel, "Blonde," has to be the greatest immersion of author into central character we've seen in the last 50 years. Joyce is incredibly prolific and exceptional, and this book shows how it all works together in her daily life. Her scholarship is also excellent throughout."
"A reference book for all writers' desks, this details the elements of culture that, if on our fingertips (or at least our bookshelves), gives us a handle on what moves people, what generates creativity, and what deepens life experience. All of these are vital for writing memoir, fiction and narrative non-fiction."
"In today's world of self-publishing and the necessity of authors creating their own platforms, I would be remiss in not including this book. It has served authors very well for many years. You will find many great marketing ideas for your books in here – guaranteed."
"Quite simply, the most important publishing and marketing book of our time. The author shows ALL the ways a book can be published now, and how to connect all the dots so that you create a platform and market presence that sells your words. I can't say enough about this book: I became a digital publisher because of it."
"The undisputed anthology classic for personal essay writers and memoirists, this collection shows, through example, the many ways a writer may convert his or her personal experiences, revelations or observations into compelling essays that find their audiences."