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 Toni Morrison in 1979.

Top 10 books about creative writing

From linguistics to essays by Zadie Smith and Toni Morrison, poet Anthony Anaxagorou recommends some ‘lateral’ ways in to a demanding craft

T he poet Rita Dove was once asked what makes poetry successful. She went on to illuminate three key areas: First, the heart of the writer; the things they wish to say – their politics and overarching sensibilities. Second, their tools: how they work language to organise and position words. And the third, the love a person must have for books: “To read, read, read.”

When I started mapping out How to Write It , I wanted to focus on the aspects of writing development that took in both theoretical and interpersonal aspects. No writer lives in a vacuum, their job is an endless task of paying attention.

How do I get myself an agent? What’s the best way to approach a publisher? Should I self-publish? There is never one way to assuage the concerns of those looking to make a career out of writing. Many labour tirelessly for decades on manuscripts that never make it to print. The UK on average publishes around 185,000 new titles per year, ranking us the third largest publishing market in the world, yet the number of aspiring writers is substantially greater.

Writers writing about writing can become a supercilious endeavour; I’m more interested in the process of making work and the writer’s perspectives that substantiate the framework.

There’s no single authority, anything is possible. All that’s required are some words and an idea – which makes the art of writing enticing but also difficult and daunting. The books listed below, diverse in their central arguments and genres, guide us towards more interesting and lateral ways to think about what we want to say, and ultimately, how we choose to say it.

1. The Hatred of Poetry by Ben Lerner An intellectual meditation on the cultural function of poetry. Less idealistic than other poetry criticism, Lerner puts forward a richly layered case for the reasons writers and readers alike turn to poetry, probing into why it’s often misconceived as elitist or tedious, and asks that we reconsider the value we place on the art form today.

2. Find Your Voice by Angie Thomas One of the hardest things about creative writing is developing a voice and not compromising your vision for the sake of public appeal. Thomas offers sharp advice to those wrestling with novels or Young Adult fiction. She writes with appealing honesty, taking in everything from writer’s block to deciding what a final draft should look like. The book also comes interspersed with prompts and writing exercises alongside other tips and suggestions to help airlift writers out of the mud.

3. Linguistics: Why It Matters by Geoffrey K Pullum If language is in a constant state of flux, and rules governing sentence construction, meaning and logic are always at a point of contention, what then can conventional modes of language and linguistics tell us about ourselves, our cultures and our relationship to the material world? Pullum addresses a number of philosophical questions through the scientific study of human languages – their grammars, clauses and limitations. An approachable, fascinating resource for those interested in the mechanics of words.

4. Madness, Rack, and Honey by Mary Ruefle The collected lectures of poet and professor Mary Ruefle present us with an erudite inquiry into some of the major aspects of a writer’s mind and craft. Ruefle possesses an uncanny ability to excavate broad and complex subjects with such unforced and original lucidity that you come away feeling as if you’ve acquired an entirely new perspective from only a few pages. Themes range from sentimentality in poetry, to fear, beginnings and – a topic she returns to throughout the book – wonder. “A poem is a finished work of the mind, it is not the work of a finished mind.”

Zadie Smith.

5. Feel Free by Zadie Smith These astute and topical essays dating from 2010 to 2017 demonstrate Smith’s forensic ability to navigate and unpack everything from Brexit to Justin Bieber. Dissecting high philosophical works then bringing the focus back on to her own practice as a fiction writer, her essay The I Who Is Not Me sees Smith extrapolate on how autobiography shapes novel writing, and elucidates her approach to thinking around British society’s tenuous and often binary perspectives on race, class and ethnicity.

6. Threads by Sandeep Parmar, Nisha Ramayya and Bhanu Kapil Who occupies the “I” in poetry? When poets write, are they personally embodying their speakers or are they intended to be emblematic of something larger and more complex? Is the “I” assumed to be immutable or is it more porous? These are the questions posited in Threads, which illuminates the function of the lyric “I” in relation to whiteness, maleness and Britishness. Its short but acute essays interrogate whiteness’s hegemony in literature and language, revealing how writers from outside the dominant paradigm are often made to reckon with the positions and perspectives they write from.

7. Mouth Full of Blood by Toni Morrison An urgent set of essays and lectures from the late Nobel prize winner that collates her most discerning musings around citizenship, race and art, as well as offering invaluable insight into the craft of writing. She reflects on revisions made to her most famous novel, Beloved, while also reflecting on the ways vernaculars can shape new stories. One of my favourite aphorisms written by Morrison sits on my desk and declares: “As writers, what we do is remember. And to remember this world is to create it.”

8. On Poetry by Jonathan Davidson Poetry can be thought of as something arduous or an exercise in analysis, existing either within small artistic enclaves or secondary school classrooms. One of the many strengths of Davidson’s writing is how he makes poetry feel intimate and personal, neither dry or remote. His approach to thinking around ways that certain poems affect us is well measured without being exclusive. A timely and resourceful book for writers interested in how poems go on to live with us throughout our lives.

9. Essays by Lydia Davis From flash fiction to stories, Davis is recognised as one of the preeminent writers of short-form fiction. In these essays, spanning several decades, she tracks much of her writing process and her relationship to experimentalism, form and the ways language can work when pushed to its outer limits. How we read into lines is something Davis returns to, as is the idea of risk and brevity within micro-fiction.

10. Essayism by Brian Dillon Dillon summarises the essay as an “experiment in attention”. This dynamic and robust consideration of the form sheds light on how and why certain essays have changed the cultural and political landscape, from the end of the Middle Ages to the present time. A sharp and curious disquisition on one of the more popular yet challenging writing enterprises.

How to Write It by Anthony Anaxagorou is published by Merky Books. To order a copy, go to guardianbookshop.com .

  • Creative writing
  • Toni Morrison
  • Zadie Smith
  • Lydia Davis

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Language » Writing Books

The best books on creative writing, recommended by andrew cowan.

The professor of creative writing at UEA says Joseph Conrad got it right when he said that the sitting down is all. He chooses five books to help aspiring writers.

The best books on Creative Writing - Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande

Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande

The best books on Creative Writing - On Becoming a Novelist by John C. Gardner

On Becoming a Novelist by John C. Gardner

The best books on Creative Writing - On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

The best books on Creative Writing - The Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner

The Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner

The best books on Creative Writing - Worstward Ho by Samuel Beckett

Worstward Ho by Samuel Beckett

The best books on Creative Writing - Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande

1 Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande

2 on becoming a novelist by john c. gardner, 3 on writing: a memoir of the craft by stephen king, 4 the forest for the trees by betsy lerner, 5 worstward ho by samuel beckett.

How would you describe creative writing?

Creative writing is an academic discipline. I draw a distinction between writing , which is what writers do, and creative writing. I think most people in the UK who teach creative writing have come to it via writing – they are bona fide writers who publish poems and novels and play scripts and the like, and they have found some way of supporting that vocation through having a career in academia. So in teaching aspirant writers how to write they are drawing upon their own experience of working in that medium. They are drawing upon their knowledge of what the problems are and how those problems might be tackled. It’s a practice-based form of learning and teaching.

But because it is in academia there is all this paraphernalia that has to go with it. So you get credits for attending classes. You have to do supporting modules; you have to be assessed. If you are doing an undergraduate degree you have to follow a particular curriculum and only about a quarter of that will be creative writing and the rest will be in the canon of English literature . If you are doing a PhD you have to support whatever the creative element is with a critical element. So there are these ways in which academia disciplines writing and I think of that as Creative Writing with a capital C and a capital W. All of us who teach creative writing are doing it, in a sense, to support our writing, but it is also often at the expense of our writing. We give up quite a lot of time and mental energy and also, I think, imaginative and creative energy to teach.

Your first choice is Dorothea Brande’s Becoming a Writer , which for someone writing in 1934 sounds pretty forward thinking.

Because creative writing has now taken off and has become this very widespread academic discipline it is beginning to acquire its own canon of key works and key texts. This is one of the oldest of them. It’s a book that almost anyone who teaches creative writing will have read. They will probably have read it because some fundamentals are explained and I think the most important one is Brande’s sense of the creative writer being comprised of two people. One of them is the artist and the other is the critic.

Actually, Malcolm Bradbury who taught me at UEA, wrote the foreword to my edition of Becoming a Writer , and he talks about how Dorothea Brande was writing this book ‘in Freudian times’ – the 1930s in the States. And she does have this very Freudian idea of the writer as comprised of a child artist on the one hand, who is associated with spontaneity, unconscious processes, while on the other side there is the adult critic making very careful discriminations.

And did she think the adult critic hindered the child artist?

No. Her point is that the two have to work in harmony and in some way the writer has to achieve an effective balance between the two, which is often taken to mean that you allow the artist child free rein in the morning. So you just pour stuff on to the page in the morning when you are closest to the condition of sleep. The dream state for the writer is the one that is closest to the unconscious. And then in the afternoon you come back to your morning’s work with your critical head on and you consciously and objectively edit it. Lots of how-to-write books encourage writers to do it that way. It is also possible that you can just pour stuff on to the page for days on end as long as you come back to it eventually with a critical eye.

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Good! Your next book, John Gardner’s On Becoming a Novelist , is described as comfort food for the aspiring novelist.

This is another one of the classics. He was quite a successful novelist in the States, but possibly an even more successful teacher of creative writing. The short story writer and poet Raymond Carver, for instance, was one of his students. And he died young in a motorcycle accident when he was 49. There are two classic works by him. One is this book, On Becoming a Novelist , and the other is The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers . They were both put together from his teaching notes after he died.

On Becoming a Novelist  is the more succinct and, I think, is the better of the two. He talks about automatic writing and the idea, just like Dorothea Brande, of the artist being comprised of two people. But his key idea is the notion of the vivid and continuous dream. He suggests that when we read a novel we submit to the logic of that novel in the same way as we might submit to the logic of a dream – we sink into it, and clearly the events that occur could not exist outside the imagination.

What makes student writing in particular go wrong is when it draws attention to itself, either through bad writing or over-elaborate writing. He suggests that these faults in the aspirant writer alert the reader to the fact that they are reading a fiction and it is a bit like giving someone who is dreaming a nudge. It jolts them out of the dream. So he proposes that the student writer should try to create a dream state in the reader that is vivid and appeals to all the senses and is continuous. What you mustn’t do is alert the reader to the fact that they are reading a fiction.

It is a very good piece of advice for writers starting out but it is ultimately very limiting. It rules out all the great works of modernism and post-modernism, anything which is linguistically experimental. It rules out anything which draws attention to the words as words on a page. It’s a piece of advice which really applies to the writing of realist fiction, but is a very good place from which to begin.

And then people can move on.

I never would have expected the master of terror Stephen King to write a book about writing. But your next choice, On Writing , is more of an autobiography .

Yes. It is a surprise to a lot of people that this book is so widely read on university campuses and so widely recommended by teachers of writing. Students love it. It’s bracing: there’s no nonsense. He says somewhere in the foreword or preface that it is a short book because most books are filled with bullshit and he is determined not to offer bullshit but to tell it like it is.

It is autobiographical. It describes his struggle to emerge from his addictions – to alcohol and drugs – and he talks about how he managed to pull himself and his family out of poverty and the dead end into which he had taken them. He comes from a very disadvantaged background and through sheer hard work and determination he becomes this worldwide bestselling author. This is partly because of his idea of the creative muse. Most people think of this as some sprite or fairy that is usually feminine and flutters about your head offering inspiration. His idea of the muse is ‘a basement guy’, as he calls him, who is grumpy and turns up smoking a cigar. You have to be down in the basement every day clocking in to do your shift if you want to meet the basement guy.

Stephen King has this attitude that if you are going to be a writer you need to keep going and accept that quite a lot of what you produce is going to be rubbish and then you are going to revise it and keep working at it.

Do you agree with him?

He sounds inspirational. Your next book, Betsy Lerner’s The Forest for the Trees , looks at things from the editor’s point of view.

Yes, she was an editor at several major American publishing houses, such as Simon & Schuster. She went on to become an agent, and also did an MFA in poetry before that, so she came through the US creative writing process and understands where many writers are coming from.

The book is divided into two halves. In the second half she describes the process that goes from the completion of the author’s manuscript to submitting it to agents and editors. She explains what goes on at the agent’s offices and the publisher’s offices. She talks about the drawing up of contracts, negotiating advances and royalties. So she takes the manuscript from the author’s hands, all the way through the publishing process to its appearance in bookshops. She describes that from an insider’s point of view, which is hugely interesting.

But the reason I like this book is for the first half of it, which is very different. Here she offers six chapters, each of which is a character sketch of a different type of author. She has met each of them and so although she doesn’t mention names you feel she is revealing something to you about authors whose books you may have read. She describes six classic personality types. She has the ambivalent writer, the natural, the wicked child, the self-promoter, the neurotic and a chapter called ‘Touching Fire’, which is about the addictive and the mentally unstable.

Your final choice is Worstward Ho by Samuel Beckett .

This is a tiny book – it is only about 40 pages and it has got these massive white margins and really large type. I haven’t counted, but I would guess it is only about two to three thousand words and it is dressed up as a novella when it is really only a short story. On the first page there is this riff: ‘Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’

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When I read this I thought I had discovered a slogan for the classroom that I could share with my students. I want to encourage them to make mistakes and not to be perfectionists, not to feel that everything they do has to be of publishable standard. The whole point of doing a course, especially a creative writing MA and attending workshops, is that you can treat the course as a sandpit. You go in there, you try things out which otherwise you wouldn’t try, and then you submit it to the scrutiny of your classmates and you get feedback. Inevitably there will be things that don’t work and your classmates will help you to identify those so that you can take it away and redraft it – you can try again. And inevitably you are going to fail again because any artistic endeavour is doomed to failure because the achievement can never match the ambition. That’s why artists keep producing their art and writers keep writing, because the thing you did last just didn’t quite satisfy you, just wasn’t quite right. And you keep going and trying to improve on that.

But why, when so much of it is about failing – failing to get published, failing to be satisfied, failing to be inspired – do writers carry on?

I have a really good quote from Joseph Conrad in which he says the sitting down is all. He spends eight hours at his desk, trying to write, failing to write, foaming at the mouth, and in the end wanting to hit his head on the wall but refraining from that for fear of alarming his wife!

It’s a familiar situation; lots of writers will have been there. For me it is a kind of obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is something I have to keep returning to. I have to keep going back to the sentences, trying to get them right. Trying to line them up correctly. I can’t let them go. It is endlessly frustrating because they are never quite right.

You have published four books. Are you happy with them?

Reasonably happy. Once they are done and gone I can relax and feel a little bit proud of them. But at the time I just experience agonies. It takes me ages. It takes me four or five years to finish a novel partly because I always find distractions – like working in academia – something that will keep me away from the writing, which is equally as unrewarding as it is rewarding!

September 27, 2012

Five Books aims to keep its book recommendations and interviews up to date. If you are the interviewee and would like to update your choice of books (or even just what you say about them) please email us at [email protected]

Andrew Cowan

Andrew Cowan is Professor of Creative Writing and Director of the Creative Writing programme at UEA. His first novel, Pig , won the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, the Betty Trask Award, the Ruth Hadden Memorial Prize, the Author’s Club First Novel Award and a Scottish Council Book Award. He is also the author of the novels Common Ground , Crustaceans ,  What I Know  and  Worthless Men . His own creative writing guidebook is  The  Art  of  Writing  Fiction .

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creative writing book and media reviews

The 20+ Best Books on Creative Writing

If you’ve ever wondered, “How do I write a book?”, “How do I write a short story?”, or “How do I write a poem?” you’re not alone. I’m halfway done my MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts , and I ask myself these questions a lot, too, though I’m noticing that by now I feel more comfortable with the answers that fit my personal craft. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a Master’s of Fine Arts in Writing candidate, or even a college graduate, in order to soak up the great Wisdom of Words, as I like to call it. Another word for it is craft . That’s because there are so many great books out there on writing craft. In this post, I’ll guide you through 20+ of the most essential books on creative writing. These essential books for writers will teach you what you need to know to write riveting stories and emotionally resonant books—and to sell them.

I just also want to put in a quick plug for my post with the word count of 175 favorite novels . This resource is helpful for any writer.

creative writing book and media reviews

Now, with that done… Let’s get to it!

What Made the List of Essential Books for Writers—and What Didn’t

So what made the list? And what didn’t?

Unique to this list, these are all books that I have personally used in my journey as a creative and commercial writer.

That journey started when I was 15 and extended through majoring in English and Creative Writing as an undergrad at UPenn through becoming a freelance writer in 2014, starting this book blog, pursuing my MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts , and publishing some fiction and nonfiction books myself . My point here is not to boast, just to explain that these books have all helped me better understand and apply the craft, discipline, and business of writing over the course of more than half my life as I’ve walked the path to become a full-time writer. Your mileage my vary , but each of these books have contributed to my growth as a writer in some way. I’m not endorsing books I’ve never read or reviewed. This list comes from my heart (and pen!).

Most of these books are geared towards fiction writers, not poetry or nonfiction writers

It’s true that I’m only one human and can only write so much in one post. Originally, I wanted this list to be more than 25 books on writing. Yes, 25 books! But it’s just not possible to manage that in a single post. What I’ll do is publish a follow-up article with even more books for writers. Stay tuned!

The most commonly recommended books on writing are left out.

Why? Because they’re everywhere! I’m aiming for under-the-radar books on writing, ones that aren’t highlighted often enough. You’ll notice that many of these books are self-published because I wanted to give voice to indie authors.

But I did want to include a brief write-up of these books… and, well, you’ve probably heard of them, but here are 7 of the most recommended books on writing:

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron – With her guided practice on how to rejuvenate your art over the course of 16 weeks, Cameron has fashioned an enduring classic about living and breathing your craft (for artists as well as writers). This book is perhaps best known for popularizing the morning pages method.

The Art of Fiction by John Gardner – If you want to better understand how fiction works, John Gardner will be your guide in this timeless book.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott – A beloved writing book on process, craft, and overcoming stumbling blocks (both existential and material).

On Writing by Stephen King – A must-read hybrid memoir-craft book on the writer mythos and reality for every writer.

Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose – A core writing book that teaches you how to read with a writer’s eye and unlock the ability to recognize and analyze craft for yourself.

Steering the Craft by Ursula K. Le Guin – Many writers consider this to be their bible on craft and storytelling.

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg – A favorite of many writers, this book takes an almost spiritual approach to the art, craft, and experience of writing.

I’m aiming for under-the-radar books on writing on my list.

These books are all in print.

Over the years, I’ve picked up several awesome books on creative writing from used bookstores. Oh, how I wish I could recommend these! But many of them are out of print. The books on this list are all available new either as eBooks, hardcovers, or paperbacks. I guess this is the right time for my Affiliate Link disclaimer:

This article contains affiliate links, which means I might get a small portion of your purchase. For more on my affiliate link policy, check out my official Affiliate Link Disclaimer .

You’ll notice a lot of the books focus on the business of writing.

Too often, money is a subject that writers won’t talk about. I want to be upfront about the business of writing and making a living as a writer (or not ) with these books. It’s my goal to get every writer, even poets!, to look at writing not just from a craft perspective, but from a commercial POV, too.

And now on to the books!

Part i: the best books on writing craft, the anatomy of story by john truby.

creative writing book and media reviews

For you if: You want to develop an instinctive skill at understanding the contours of storytelling .

All I want to do as a writer, my MO, is tell good stories well. It took me so long to understand that what really matters to me is good storytelling. That’s it—that’s the essence of what we do as writers… tell good stories well. And in The Anatomy of Story , legendary screenwriting teacher John Truby takes you through story theory. This book is packed with movie references to illustrate the core beat points in story, and many of these example films are actually literary adaptations, making this a crossover craft book for fiction writers and screenwriters alike.

How to read it: Purchase The Anatomy of Story on Amazon and add it on Goodreads

The art of memoir by mary karr.

creative writing book and media reviews

For you if: You’re writing a memoir book or personal essays .

Nobody is a better person to teach memoir writing than Mary Karr, whose memoirs The Liar’s Club and Lit are considered classics of the genre. In The Art of Memoir , Karr delivers a master class on memoir writing, adapted from her experience as a writer and a professor in Syracuse’s prestigious MFA program. What I love about this book as an aspiring memoirist is Karr’s approach, which blends practical, actionable advice with more bigger-picture concepts on things like truth vs. fact in memoir storytelling. Like I said in the intro to this list, I didn’t include many nonfiction and poetry books on this list, but I knew I had to make an exception for The Art of Memoir .

How to read it: Purchase The Art of Memoir on Amazon and add it on Goodreads

The emotional craft of fiction by donald maass.

creative writing book and media reviews

For you if: Plot isn’t your problem, it’s character .

From literary agent Donald Maass, The Emotional Craft of Fiction gives you the skill set you need to master emotionally engaging fiction. Maass’s technique is to show you how readers get pulled into the most resonant, engaging, and unforgettable stories: by going through an emotional journey nimbly crafted by the author. The Emotional Craft of Fiction is a must-have work of craft to balance more plot-driven craft books.

How to read it: Purchase the The Emotional Craft of Fiction on Amazon and add it on Goodreads

How to Write Using the Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson

creative writing book and media reviews

For you if: You need a quick-and-dirty plotting technique that’s easy to memorize .

I first heard of the “Snowflake Method” in the National Novel Writing Month forums (which, by the way, are excellent places for finding writing craft worksheets, book recommendations, and online resources). In How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method , the Snowflake Method is introduced by its creator. This quick yet thorough plotting and outlining structure is humble and easy to master. If you don’t have time to read a bunch of books on outlining and the hundreds of pages that would require, check out How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method for a quick, 235-page read.

How to read it: Purchase How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method on Amazon and add it on Goodreads

Meander, spiral, explode: design and pattern in narrative by jane alison.

creative writing book and media reviews

For you if: You want to do a deep dive understanding of the core theory of story, a.k.a. narrative.

A most unconventional writing craft book, Meander, Spiral, Explode offers a theory of narrative (story) as recognizable patterns. According to author Jane Alison, there are three main narrative narratives in writing: meandering, spiraling, and exploding. This cerebral book (chock full of examples!) is equal parts seminar on literary theory as it is craft, and it will make you see and understand storytelling better than maybe any book on this list.

How to read it: Purchase Meander, Spiral, Explode on Amazon and add it on Goodreads

The modern library writer’s workshop by stephen koch.

creative writing book and media reviews

For you if: You’re wondering what it means to be the writer you want to become .

This is one of the earliest creative writing books I ever bought and it remains among the best I’ve read. Why? Reading The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop echoes the kind of mind-body-spirit approach you need to take to writing. The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop doesn’t teach you the nuts and bolts of writing as much as it teaches you how to envision the machine. Koch zooms out to big picture stuff as much as zeroes in on the little details. This is an outstanding book about getting into the mindset of being a writer, not just in a commercial sense, but as your passion and identity. It’s as close as you’ll get to the feel of an MFA in Fiction education.

How to read it: Purchase The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop on Amazon and add it on Goodreads

Romancing the beat by gwen hayes.

creative writing book and media reviews

For you if: You write or edit the romance genre and want a trusted plotting strategy to craft the perfect love story .

If you’re writing romance, you have to get Gwen Hayes’s Romancing the Beat . This book breaks down the plot points or “beats” you want to hit when you’re crafting your romance novel. When I worked as a romance novel outliner (yes, a real job), our team used Romancing the Beat as its bible; every outline was structured around Hayes’s formula. For romance writers (like myself) I cannot endorse it any higher.

How to read it: Purchase Romancing the Beat on Amazon and add it on Goodreads

Save the cat writes a novel by jessica brody.

creative writing book and media reviews

For you if: You have big ideas for a plot but need to work on the smaller moments that propel stories .

Jessica Brody’s Save the Cat! Writes a Novel adapts Blake Snyder’s bestselling screenwriting book Save the Cat! into story craft for writing novels. Brody reworks the Save the Cat! methodology in actionable, point-by-point stages of story that are each explained with countless relevant examples. If you want to focus your efforts on plot, Save the Cat! Writes a Novel is an excellent place to go to start learning the ins and outs of what makes a good story.

How to read it: Purchase Save the Cat! Writes a Novel on Amazon and add it on Goodreads

Story genius by lisa cron.

creative writing book and media reviews

For you if: You’re a pantser and are terrified at outlining yet also realize you might have a “plot problem .”

More than any other book, Lisa Cron’s Story Genius will get you where you need to go for writing amazing stories. Story Genius helps you look at plotting differently, starting from a point of characterization in which our protagonists have a clearly defined need and misbelief that play off each other and move the story forward from an emotional interior and action exterior standpoint. For many of my fellow MFA students—and myself— Story Genius is the missing link book for marrying plot and character so you innately understand the contours of good story.

How to read it: Purchase Story Genius on Amazon and add it on Goodreads

Wonderbook: the illustrated guide to creating imaginative fiction by jeff vandermeer.

creative writing book and media reviews

For you if: You’re writing in a speculative fiction genre—like science fiction, fantasy, or horror—or are trying to better understand those genres.

Jeff VanderMeer’s Wonderbook is a dazzling gem of a book and a can’t-miss-it writing book for sci-fi, fantasy, and horror writers. This book will teach you all the skills you need to craft speculative fiction, like world-building, with micro-lessons and close-reads of excellent works in these genres. Wonderbook is also one to linger over, with lavish illustrations and every inch and corner crammed with craft talk for writing imaginative fiction (sometimes called speculative fiction). And who better to guide you through this than Jeff VanderMeer, author of the popular Southern Reach Trilogy, which kicks off with Annihilation , which was adapted into a feature film.

How to read it: Purchase Wonderbook on Amazon and add it on Goodreads

Writing picture books by ann whitford paul.

creative writing book and media reviews

For you if: You’re looking to write picture books and/or understand how they work .

This book is the only one you need to learn how to write and sell picture books. As an MFA student studying children’s literature, I’ve consulted with this book several times as I’ve dipped my toes into writing picture books, a form I considered scary and intimidating until reading this book. Writing Picture Books should be on the shelf of any writer of children’s literature. a.k.a. “kid lit.”

How to read it: Purchase Writing Picture Books on Amazon and add it on Goodreads

Writing with emotion, conflict, and tension by cheryl st. john.

creative writing book and media reviews

For you if: You need to work on the conflict, tension, and suspense that keep readers turning pages and your story going forward .

Mmm, conflict. As I said earlier, it’s the element of fiction writing that makes a story interesting and a key aspect of characterization that is underrated. In Writing with Emotion, Tension, and Conflict , bestselling romance author Cheryl St. John offers a masterclass on the delicate dance between incorporating conflict, the emotions it inspires in characters, and the tension that results from those two factors.

How to read it: Purchase Writing with Emotion, Tension, and Conflict on Amazon and add it on Goodreads

Part ii: the best books on the productivity, mfas, and the business of writing, 2k to 10k: writing faster, writing better, and writing more of what you love by rachel aaron.

creative writing book and media reviews

For you if: You struggle to find the time to write and always seem to be a chapter or two behind schedule .

If you’re struggling to find time of your own to write with competing obligations (family, work, whatever) making that hard, you need Rachel Aaron’s 2k to 10k . This book will get you in shape to go from writing just a few words an hour to, eventually, 10,000 words a day. Yes, you read that right. 10,000 words a day. At that rate, you can complete so many more projects and publish more. Writers simply cannot afford to waste time if they want to keep up the kind of production that leads to perpetual publication. Trust me, Aaron’s method works. It has for me. I’m on my way to 10k in the future, currently at like 4 or 5k a day for me at the moment.

How to read it: Purchase 2k to 10k on Amazon and add it on Goodreads

The 3 a.m. epiphany by brian kitele.

creative writing book and media reviews

For you if: You’re going through writer’s block, have been away from writing for a while, or just want to loosen up and try something new .

Every writer must own an an exercise or prompt book. Why? Because regularly practicing your writing by going outside your current works-in-progress (or writer’s block) will free you up, help you plant the seeds for new ideas, and defrost your creative blocks. And the best book writing exercise book I know is The 3 A.M. Epiphany by Brian Kiteley, an MFA professor who uses prompts like these with his grad students. You’ll find that this book (and its sequel, The 4 A.M. Breakthrough ) go beyond cutesy exercises and forces you to push outside your comfort zone and learn something from the writing you find there.

How to read it: Purchase The 3 A.M. Epiphany on Amazon and add it on Goodreads

The 4-hour workweek by timothy ferriss.

creative writing book and media reviews

For you if: You think being a writer means you have to be poor .

The 4-Hour Workweek changed my life. Although not strictly about writing in the traditional sense, The 4-Hour Workweek does an excellent job teaching you about how passive income can offer you freedom. I first heard about The 4-Hour Workweek when I was getting into tarot in 2013. On Biddy Tarot , founder Brigit (author of some of the best books on tarot ) related how she read this book, learned how to create passive income, and quit her corporate job to read tarot full time. As a person with a total and permanent disability, this spoke to me because it offered a way out of the 9-to-5 “active” income that I thought was the only way. I picked up Ferriss’s book and learned that there’s more than one option, and that passive income is a viable way for me to make money even when I’m too sick to work. I saw this come true last year when I was in the hospital. When I got out, I checked my stats and learned I’d made money off my blog and books even while I was hospitalized and couldn’t do any “active” work. I almost cried.; I’ve been working on my passive income game since 2013, and I saw a return on that time investment when I needed it most.

That’s why I’m recommending The 4-Hour Workweek to writers. So much of our trade is producing passive income products. Yes, your books are products! And for many writers, this means rewiring your brain to stop looking at writing strictly as an art that will leave you impoverished for life and start approaching writing as a business that can earn you a real living through passive income. No book will help you break out of that mindset better than The 4-Hour Workweek and its actionable steps, proven method, and numerous examples of people who have followed the strategy and are living the lifestyle they’ve always dreamed of but never thought was possible.

How to read it: Purchase The 4-Hour Workweek on Amazon and add it on Goodreads

Before and After the Book Deal: A Writer’s Guide to Finishing, Publishing, Promoting, and Surviving Your First Book by Courtney Maum

creative writing book and media reviews

For you if: You’re serious about making a living as a writer and publishing with a Big 5 or major indie publisher .

Courtney Maum’s Before and After the Book Deal addresses exactly what its title suggests: what happens after you sell your first book. This book is for ambitious writers intent on submission who know they want to write and want to avoid common pitfalls while negotiating terms and life after your debut. As many published authors would tell you, the debut is one thing, but following that book up with a sustainable, successful career is another trick entirely. Fortunately, we have Maum’s book, packed with to-the-moment details and advice.

How to read it: Purchase Before and After the Book Deal on Amazon and add it on Goodreads

Diy mfa: write with focus, read with purpose, build your community by gabriela pereira.

creative writing book and media reviews

For you if: You’re stressed out wondering if you really need an MFA .

The MFA is under this header “business of writing” because it is absolutely an economic choice you make. And, look, I’m biased. I’m getting an MFA. But back when I was grappling with whether or not it was worth it—the debt, the time, the stress—I consulted with DIY MFA , an exceptional guide to learning how to enrich your writing craft, career, and community outside the structures of an MFA program. I’ve also more than once visited the companion site, DIYMFA.com , to find a kind of never-ending rabbit hole of new and timeless content on the writing life. On DIYMFA.com and in the corresponding book, you’ll find a lively hub for author interviews, writing craft shop talk, reading lists, and business of writing articles.

How to read it: Purchase DIY MFA on Amazon and add it on Goodreads

Mfa vs. nyc by chad harbach.

creative writing book and media reviews

For you if: You’re wondering how far an MFA really gets you—and you’re ready to learn the realities of the publishing world .

About a thousand years ago (well, in 2007), I spent the fall of my sophomore year of college as a “Fiction Submissions and Advertising Intern” for the literary magazine n+1 , which was co-founded by Chad Harbach, who you might know from his buzzy novel, The Art of Fielding . In MFA vs NYC , Harbach offers his perspective as both an MFA graduate and someone deeply enmeshed in the New York City publishing industry. This thought-provoking look at these two arenas that launch writers will pull the wool up from your eyes about how publishing really works . It’s not just Harbach’s voice you get in here, though. The book, slim but mighty, includes perspectives from the likes of George Saunders and David Foster Wallace in the MFA camp and Emily Gould and Keith Gessen speaking to NYC’s writing culture.

How to read it: Purchase MFA vs. NYC on Amazon and add it on Goodreads

Scratch: writers, money, and the art of making a living – edited by manjula martin.

creative writing book and media reviews

For you if: a) You’re worried about how to balance writing with making a living; b) You’re not worried about how to balance writing with making a living .

Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living is alternately one of the most underrated and essential books on writing out there. This collection of personal essays and interviews all revolve around the taboo theme of how writers make their living, and it’s not always—indeed, rarely—through writing alone. Some of the many contributing authors include Cheryl Strayed ( Wild ), Alexander Chee ( How to Write an Autobiographical Novel ), Jennifer Weiner ( Mrs. Everything ), Austin Kleon ( Steal Like an Artist ), and many others. Recently a young woman asked me for career advice on being a professional freelance writer, and I made sure to recommend Scratch as an eye-opening and candid read that is both motivating and candid.

How to read it: Purchase Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living on Amazon and add it on Goodreads

Write to market: deliver a book that sells by chris fox.

creative writing book and media reviews

For you if: You don’t know why your books aren’t selling—and you want to start turning a profit by getting a real publishing strategy

So you don’t have to be an indie author to internalize the invaluable wisdom you’ll find here in Write to Market . I first heard about Write to Market when I first joined the 20Booksto50K writing group on Facebook , a massive, supportive, motivating community of mostly indie authors. Everyone kept talking about Write to Market . I read the book in a day and found the way I looked at publishing change. Essentially, what Chris Fox does in Write to Market is help you learn to identify what are viable publishing niches. Following his method, I’ve since published several successful and #1 bestselling books in the quotations genre on Amazon . Without Fox’s book, I’m not sure I would have gotten there on my own.

How to read it: Purchase Write to Market on Amazon and add it on Goodreads

And that’s a wrap what are some of your favorite writing books, share this:, you might be interested in.

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Sarah S. Davis is the founder of Broke by Books, a blog about her journey as a schizoaffective disorder bipolar type writer and reader. Sarah's writing about books has appeared on Book Riot, Electric Literature, Kirkus Reviews, BookRags, PsychCentral, and more. She has a BA in English from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master of Library and Information Science from Clarion University, and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

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Last updated on Feb 07, 2023

The 50+ Best Writing Websites of 2024

The Internet is full of writing websites and blogs to help people reach their creative goals . If you’ve always dreamt of writing your own book, but don’t know how to get there — or if you’re in the process of writing, but feel unsure about what to do next — then it’s your lucky day! Here we have all the best writing websites of 2024 in one single place for your convenience. They’re also organized by category, and alphabetically within each of those categories, to make each one easier to find. Enjoy!

Best writing websites for writing craft and inspiration

writing websites

1. Almost an Author

Offering up new content every day, Almost an Author covers a grand scope of writing topics. From genre-specific advice to emotional support on your writing journey, there's tons of useful info here for beginner and veteran writers alike.

2. Association of Writer & Writing Programs

Having just marked their 50th anniversary, AWP is one of the premier authorities on writing. The AWP website provides resources and ample opportunities for authors, teachers, and students at every point in their career. Here you’ll be able to find information about writing programs, career options, and conferences all over the world. Keep in mind, though, that access to some of these features is restricted to members only.

3. Creativity Portal

This is a wonderful hub for creative resources that has been around for a whopping nineteen years! Here you can find writing prompts , creative coaching, printable writing templates, and interviews with authors that will help nourish the right side of your brain.

4. Daily Writing Tips

As the name suggests, this site offers daily writing tips ranging from open-ended prompts and exercises to grammar, spelling, punctuation, and vocabulary. It also covers all writing levels and professions, so it doesn't matter how far along you are in your writing career — DWT is sure to help you out.

Instead of spending thousands of dollars on a master’s degree, you can get your own "DIY MFA" right here! This site (founded by Gabriela Pereira ) aims to cover everything you would learn in a graduate program, while giving you the freedom to choose your own areas of concentration and allocate your time as you please. 

6. Electric Literature

While not exactly a craft-focused website — so no straight-up writing advice or prompts — this nonprofit digital publisher showcases literature-related essays, criticism, and recommended readings. If you're looking to brush up on both literary theory and recent literary trends, Electric Lit is the place for you.

7. Fiction University

This virtual university, run by award-winning author Janice Hardy, contains tons of advice and concrete examples to help authors build a strong writing foundation. It's full of blog posts by professionals who share their own processes and techniques, providing tips not just on what you should do as a writer, but on how  to make it happen.

8. Helping Writers Become Authors

Longtime author K.M. Weiland offers writing advice that ranges from outlining and structuring to characterization and dialogue — plus all the little details in between. She updates her blog faithfully with topical posts that would pique any writer's (or non-writer's) interest.

9. Insecure Writer's Support Group

Writing is intimidating for everyone , whether you're a multi-published author or you're just starting out. That's why getting support, guidance, and motivation throughout the process is vital! On IWSG, you'll discover a wealth of information on writing, publishing, marketing, and anything else you might need to ultimately overcome your insecurities.

10. Literary Hub

LitHub boasts a superb selection of content for all things literary. Here you can get all the latest book-related news, posts on design and the craft, your daily dose of fiction, and sparkling reviews of new works. One of this site's best features is its section on literature in translation — a great resource for those who want to read books and authors from around the world.

11. LitReactor

The LitReactor blog consists of writing classes, workshops, and a myriad of posts on writing and books ( some of which are even written by us! ). There’s also an online magazine that includes interviews, criticism and analysis, and seasonally appropriate reads and recommendations.

12. LitRejections

An unfortunate occupational hazard of with writing is rejection. This is where a site like LitRejections comes into play! It offers personal stories to help discouraged writers persevere through rejection, and maintain hope and motivation as they move forward in their careers.

13. Live Write Thrive

In this website by professional writer and editor C.S. Lakin, you’ll find plenty of nuanced writing anecdotes and tips. Lakin also supplies annotated critiques that can help you prep your book for publication.

14. NaNoWriMo

Besides serving as the official information hub for NaNoWriMo , this site also lends constant support for those struggling to "win" National Novel Writing Month. Make sure to check out the NaNoWriMo forums, which are chock-full of other people's personal writing tips and strategies to get you through November — and every other month of the year — as a writer.

15. Now Novel

This comprehensive website, founded by author Bridget McNulty , is a go-to for just about every writing-related question you might have. Here you'll also find advice, courses, and even an author dashboard where you can keep track of your own writing progress.

16. Positive Writer

If you often feel uncertain about your creative abilities, this is the site for you. Bryan Hutchinson created Positive Writer to encourage and inspire all those who want to write, no matter how much experience or confidence they have.

17. ProWritingAid

ProWritingAid offers a fantastic manuscript editing software that analyzes your writing and creates reports for you to learn from! This tool also includes a thesaurus, grammar checks, style suggestions, and more — you can learn all about it on the ProWritingAid blog, or in our review of the app !

18. She Writes

A well-established writing website with a feminist bent, She Writes is "the largest online community and content site for women writers... all around the world." The site features thoughtful posts and resources to help writers on their journeys, as well as a personal She Writes blog page for every user who signs up.

19. Well-Storied

Here you can find recent articles, workbooks, tutorials, and fascinating discussions on writing. Kristine Kieffer has an extensive archive of posts as well, where you can procure information on just about any topic related to books and writing.

20. The Write Practice

Fulfilling the promise of their name, every single post on this site emphasizes putting theory into practice! There's simply no better way to become a writer than by creating a routine, and that’s exactly what The Write Practice helps facilitate.

21. Writer’s Digest

Writer's Digest is one of the most encyclopedic writing websites out there — after all, the print magazine has been around for almost a century now! Here you’ll find genre and vocation-organized articles, events and competitions, webinars, templates, tutorials, and so much more.

22. Writer Unboxed

Writer Unboxed features articles by authors and industry professionals, focused specifically on the craft and business of fiction writing.

23. The Writing Cooperative

Plain and simple, this is a group of people who want to help each other become better writers. On Writing Cooperative, you will find articles that cover just about every aspect of the writing life. They also have monthly writing challenges to keep you incentivized, and there’s even a space where you can submit your own article to the blog!

24. Writing.com

This is an absolutely all-inclusive community for writers . It’s open to all levels and provides a creative, supportive environment for all members, as well as portfolios to store and display their writing. Like most writing websites, it also includes a plethora of writing tools , contests, and rewards.

25. Catapult: Don’t Write Alone

Don’t Write Alone is a blog written by the Catapult team dedicated to helping writers grow their skills. As a publisher and magazine founded in 2005, Catapult has seen a lot of works and now they’re spilling all the details. From interviews, to craft essays, to writer lifestyle essays, Catapult covers it all.

26. Kirkus Review’s Writers’ Center

Kirkus Review is known for its prestigious $50,000 dollar annual prize and its bi-monthly issues where they critique hundreds of recently published books. But, did you know they also have a section of their website devoted to helping emerging writers grow their skills and navigate the publishing industry? They’re always up to date on the latest trends — if they aren’t creating new trends themselves.

27. Writers Write

An invaluable resource for creative writers, business writers, or bloggers, Writers Write offers over 1400 articles, courses, and workbooks to help you take your writing practice to the next level. Alongside their educational content, they offer book reviews, trivia on famous authors, and prompts. Sign up for their inspirational newsletters for regular hits of motivation that will keep you writing.

28. The Narrative Arc

Beginning as a home to Andie R. Cranford’s writing journey, The Narrative Arc is now a treasure trove of practical tips and prompts to inspire your creativity. Breakdowns of popular books are particularly handy for the budding author — but whether exploring writing for the first time or tightening the bolts on your Franken-novel, the site's ideas on craft are elegant and inspiring.

Best writing websites in the publishing industry

writing websites

29. Agent Query

This database allows authors to perform in-depth searches for literary agents . You can narrow your search by genre and keywords, view agents’ full profiles, and see if they are currently accepting queries — all for free!

30. The Creative Penn

Besides being a bestselling author on various topics, Joanna Penn is also a leading voice in self-publishing . On her punnily named site, you’ll find abundant information related to writing, self-publishing, marketing, and everything else you mind need to make a living as a writer.

31. Digital Pubbing

Digital Pubbing provides industry news, interviews with indie authors, and resources for learning all about ebooks and the publishing industry. In accordance with the name, this is the perfect site for any author hoping to absorb some serious digital knowledge.

32. The Independent Publishing Magazine

We know it might seem like we're repeating ourselves, but this website really is all about publishing (both independent and traditional, despite what the name indicates). Whatever info you need about self-publishing, trad pub, or hybrid publishing , you’ll definitely be able to find it here.

33. Publishers Weekly

And if you have a specific question about the publishing world, you’ll most likely find the answer here. This weekly magazine is packed full of news, reviews, announcements, and many other resources on the industry. It has been dubbed as "the Bible of the book business" and with its extensive archive, it’s easy to see why.

34. Publishing Perspectives

Publishing Perspectives is another leading source of publishing info, specializing in industry news and topical articles. Aimed at publishers, agents , and authors alike, it features a variety of posts that cover book fairs, distribution, education, and much more.

35. Query Shark

Not sure where your query letter is up to snuff? Query Shark offers the opportunity to have your query critiqued, and to read detailed query critiques of other authors' letters, so you can get the best possible results for your book. Be warned, though, that this sharp-toothed feedback isn't for the weak of heart.

36. Writer Beware

This amazingly thorough site compiles information on schemes and scams that affect authors , especially those run through email and the Internet. It’s sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, but obviously applies to authors everywhere. If you're a fresh-faced author trying to get published, definitely check it out — it could save you from losing thousands of dollars in an elaborate scam.

37. The Darling Axe

When the industry professionals at The Darling Axe aren’t working on manuscripts, they flock to the internet to share their hot takes on the publishing industry. They also host writing contests throughout the year to build a writing community and give unpublished authors the chance to get feedback from professionals.

Best writing websites for marketing and design

writing websites

38. David Gaughran

An experienced author of historical adventures, short stories, and popular books for writers , David Gaughran is one of the definitive writing experts out there. His eponymous blog contains plenty of info on marketing and self-publishing, plus workshops to help aspiring authors. And similar to Writer Beware, he's the noble opposition of online publishing scams and scammers — so if you're frustrated by these issues, you'll discover a blissfully sympathetic voice on his blog.

39. Kikolani

Focused specifically on marketing, Kikolani offers tips and strategies for bloggers who want to grow their presence and attract more readers. Here you’ll find information on brand development , social media, customer retention, and other useful tips that you can put to good use as a blogger. (If you're just getting started, though, we'd recommend this course .)

40. Kindlepreneur

Dave Chesson is — in his own words — a “digital marketing nut.” His blog has all the information you could ever need about Kindle book publishing , how to write to market, increasing your rankings on Amazon, and lots more practical tips and advice.

41. Storiad

Storiad is a marketing platform that helps authors and publishers sell books. Go here for essential information on writing apps , databases, tools, and budgeting to help you run your own publishing campaign from start to finish.

42. Writers & Artists

Part of the distinguished Bloomsbury, Writers & Artists has quite a few articles on writing and the self-publishing process. They also offer editorial services and events on many different topics, like genre-specific writing courses and how to get connected with agents .

43. Your Writer Platform

Naturally, this site is dedicated to building your very own writer platform. There are tons of tips, resources, tools, how-tos, and even individual consulting services to help you build the platform that works best for you and your marketing needs.

Best writing blogs by industry professionals

writing websites

44. Goins, Writer

Bestselling author Jeff Goins created this blog to share his thoughts on writing and to inspire others to chase their creative dreams. He's especially good at breaking complex topics down into digestible bits — new writers, go here for your primers.

45. Jane Friedman

With copious experience in the publishing industry, Jane Friedman offers online classes and articles on the entire process of book publishing. She's a real goldmine of business knowledge, so keep her in mind for when you're ready to publish your book.

46. Nail Your Novel

As a bestselling former ghostwriter who now publishes under her own name, Roz Morris provides advice about writing, self-publishing, and of course, ghostwriting . If you're interested in becoming a ghostwriter, be sure to check out her courses!

47. Nathan Bransford

Nathan Bransford is a former literary agent who posts all about the inner workings of publishing, as well and information on agents and self-publishing. He also does consultations, edits, and critiques . 

48. Rachelle Gardner

Skillful agent Rachelle Gardner has negotiated over 200 contracts with over twenty publishers and helped more than 100 authors fulfill their dreams of publishing. On her blog, she offers writing, publishing, and social media coaching, along with general writing and publishing tips.

49. Kris Writes

For regular insights from a New York Times bestselling author, look no further than Kristine Kathryn Rusch's blog. On Mondays, she posts free short stories for authors to find inspiration in, and Wednesdays she posts in her “Business Musings” collection where she breaks down news from the publishing industry and offers her inside opinions. 

50. The Marginalian  

Maria Popova describes her site as “a record of my own becoming as a person — intellectually, creatively, spiritually, poetically — drawn from my extended marginalia on the search for meaning across literature, science, art, philosophy, and the various other tendrils of human thought and feeling.” She sends out a Sunday newsletter with thoughtful deconstruction of the week’s best liberal arts goings-on to help broaden her readers’ appreciation of the creative world.

51. John August

For all the screenwriters out there, John August co-hosts a weekly podcast with fellow screenwriter Craig Mazin discussing both the craft and business of screenwriting while breaking down popular movies. To help screenwriters really get a feel for the process of working with a studio, John has posted multiple versions of scripts from different stages in the production process on films and series he’s written, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory , Big Fish , and Chernobyl .

What are some of your favorite writing websites? Let us know in the comments below!

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The Complete Guide to Creative Writing: Master Storytelling, Craft Characters, and Unleash Your Creativity

Ever dreamed of crafting captivating narratives that transport readers to new worlds and stay with them long after the final page?

Do you yearn to breathe life into unforgettable characters and weave intricate plots that keep readers on the edge of their seats? If so, then unlock your inner storyteller with this comprehensive guide to mastering the art of creative writing!

Whether you’re a budding author seeking to lay the groundwork for your first novel or a seasoned writer looking to refine your craft, this guide equips you with the knowledge and tools you need to take your storytelling to the next level.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Engage in creative writing exercises to enhance imagination and writing skills
  • Develop well-defined characters with authentic personas and meaningful relationships
  • To bring the setting to life and set the mood, use specific descriptions and sensory details
  • Craft compelling dialogue to reveal subtext, create tension, and develop memorable characters

Understanding the Basics of Creative Writing

To be a successful writer, you need to understand the basics of creative writing. You can improve your imagination and writing skills by doing creative writing exercises .

Try exercises like giving colors personalities or imagining superpowers to boost your creativity .

To improve your writing, focus on using metaphors and literary devices to make it better.

Finding inspiration in everyday life is also crucial for creative writing. To be more creative, you can ask questions and analyze writing . You can also use personal journals to connect with your emotions and experiences .

When you write about things you love, like food or travel, it adds passion and authenticity to your work.

Reading like a writer is important for creative writing. It helps you learn different writing styles, vocabulary, and storytelling.

Elements of Creative Writing

Explore the vibrant characters that bring your creative writing to life. In any story, characters are important. It’s essential to develop them in a captivating way for readers.

Creative writing prompts can help you create characters with interesting traits and quirks.

You can test your characters and their growth by creating various storylines.

Using symbolism in stories adds depth and meaning, helping readers comprehend the work.

Use methods to describe settings and characters in a way that makes them come alive. This will immerse readers in your world.

Research is important in creative writing . It makes your story authentic and credible.

When you include these elements, your writing will be memorable and stand out to readers.

The Art of Character Development

Bring your creations to life with skillful character development. Exploring your characters intricately leads to captivating narratives for your readers.

Here are some key elements to consider when developing your characters:

  • Character motivations : Understanding what drives your characters will help you create authentic and relatable personas. Explore their desires, fears, and goals to add depth to their actions and decisions.
  • Character arcs : Crafting a well-defined character arc allows your characters to grow and change throughout the story. Consider their starting point, the challenges they face, and how they evolve as a result.
  • Character relationships : The dynamics between characters can add richness to your storytelling. Develop meaningful connections, whether they be friendships, rivalries, or romances, that contribute to the overall narrative.
  • Character flaws : Imperfections make characters more realistic and relatable. Give your characters flaws that they must grapple with, allowing for personal growth and conflict within the story.
  • Character descriptions : Paint a vivid picture of your characters through detailed descriptions. From physical appearances to unique personality traits, these details help readers visualize and connect with your characters.

The Importance of Setting in Creative Writing

Setting is more than just a backdrop; it can be a character in itself. Through thoughtful setting selection and description, you can set the desired tone and atmosphere for your story, be it a murder mystery or tranquility.

The setting enhances your writing’s mood. Whether it’s a dark and foreboding forest or a bright and bustling city, the ambiance of the setting can evoke specific emotions in your readers.

The setting defines both time and place in your story. Specific details like architecture and clothing styles transport readers to different eras and locations.

Techniques for describing the setting include using sensory details, such as sights, sounds, and smells, to paint a vivid picture in your readers’ minds. Using figurative language, such as similes and metaphors, can help create a stronger and more evocative image of the setting.

Crafting Compelling Dialogue

You can create compelling dialogue by using a personal pronoun and a coordinating conjunction. Develop authentic characters by giving each one a unique voice and speech pattern. This will establish their personality and make their dialogue more natural.

Craft compelling conflict by using dialogue to reveal subtext and create tension between characters. Show what’s left unsaid, and build scenes that leave the reader wanting resolution.

Use dialogue to establish unique voices and reflect each character’s personality. This will make them more memorable and relatable.

Remember that dialogue should always move the story forward , reveal character information, and help the reader understand the relationships between characters.

The Role of Conflict in Storytelling

The conflict plays a crucial role in storytelling, shaping the narrative and creating tension for the reader.

There are various types of conflicts in storytelling, such as internal conflicts within a character or external conflicts between characters or with their surroundings.

These conflicts are essential because they contribute to the character’s development by challenging their beliefs, values, and motivations.

Conflict also drives the plot in storytelling, as it presents obstacles and challenges that the characters must overcome.

Resolving conflicts in creative writing is important because it allows for character growth and resolution of the story’s central conflict.

To create realistic conflicts, writers must consider the characters’ goals, desires, and fears, ensuring that the conflicts are relatable and believable.

Mastering Show, Don’t Tell

To master creative writing, grasp and apply the ‘show, don’t tell’ rule . By utilizing effective storytelling techniques , you can engage the reader and create immersive experiences that enhance narrative depth.

Showing instead of telling allows you to develop nuanced characters, giving them life and depth through their actions and dialogue. It paints a vivid picture, immersing readers in the story alongside the characters.

By using sensory details and descriptive language, you can transport the reader into the world you’ve created, making the story come alive in their minds.

Creative Writing Styles Examples

Crafting compelling characters and employing various literary devices are crucial components of creative writing styles and techniques.

To enhance your creative writing skills, there are several methods you can explore:

  • Descriptive Writing: This style focuses on vividly describing people, places, or things, allowing the reader to visualize the scene without effort.
  • Narrative Writing: In this style, writers tell a story, usually in a chronological order, creating engaging plots and characters.
  • Poetry: A creative style that uses rhythm, rhyme, and metaphor to convey emotions, ideas, or stories in a condensed and artistic form.
  • Expository Writing: This style aims to inform and explain, often found in essays, articles, and non-fiction books, presenting facts and information clearly.
  • Dialogue Writing: Writers use this style to bring conversations to life, capturing the voices and interactions of characters in a story.

Writing exercises enhance storytelling skills. Experiment with different techniques, such as stream of consciousness or nonlinear narratives, to add freshness and creativity to your writing.

Understanding story structures , such as the hero’s journey or the three-act structure, can provide a framework for your story and keep readers engaged. Exploring character archetypes can help you create well-rounded and relatable characters.

Lastly, incorporating symbolism in storytelling can add depth and layers of meaning to your work. These techniques elevate your writing and captivate readers.

The Process of Plot Development

Developing a solid plot for your story requires careful planning and a clear understanding of the narrative structure. To truly captivate your audience, consider the following:

  • Developing Conflict : Introduce opposing forces or goals that create tension and drive the story forward. Explore internal conflicts within your characters, adding depth to their journey.
  • Creating Suspense : Strategically reveal information to keep the reader guessing and engaged. Utilize cliffhangers and foreshadowing to maintain a sense of anticipation.
  • Plot Twists : Surprise your readers with unexpected turns that challenge their assumptions. Ensure that plot twists are believable and enhance the overall story.
  • Character Arcs : Develop multidimensional characters who undergo personal growth and transformation. Show how their experiences and actions shape their journey throughout the plot.

Techniques for Creating Suspense and Tension

Foreshadowing and cliffhangers create suspense, keeping readers engaged and on edge.

One technique for building anticipation is creating conflict within your story. Introduce opposing goals or conflicting characters that will keep the protagonist’s desires from being easily achieved.

Another technique is manipulating pacing. Alternate between fast-paced and slower-paced chapters to keep the tension mounting.

Craft immersive experiences for your readers by engaging all their senses and creating a vivid world they can get lost in.

Use language strategically to convey the desired tone and atmosphere. Choose words that evoke emotion and heighten tension in your writing.

The Power of Perspective in Creative Writing

When writing creatively, you can explore the power of perspective by viewing the world through multiple lenses and weaving together different narratives.

  • Narrative perspective: The way a story is told can greatly impact the reader’s experience. By experimenting with different narrative perspectives, such as first-person, second-person, and third-person, you can shape the reader’s perception of the events and characters in your story.
  • Shifting viewpoints: Switching between different characters’ perspectives allows you to delve into their unique thoughts, emotions, and motivations. This adds depth to your story and helps the reader develop a more comprehensive understanding of the narrative.
  • Character perception: Each character in your story will have their own perception of the world around them. Exploring how different characters interpret events and interact with each other can create rich and dynamic relationships within your story.
  • Emotional interpretation: Perspective plays a crucial role in how emotions are conveyed in your writing. By adopting different viewpoints, you can explore how emotions are experienced and expressed by different characters, adding complexity and authenticity to your story.
  • Reader engagement: The power of perspective lies in its ability to engage and captivate readers. By offering diverse viewpoints and allowing readers to see the world through different eyes, you can create a more immersive and thought-provoking reading experience.

Exploring Different Genres in Creative Writing

How can you effectively explore different genres in your creative writing? To expand your repertoire, consider delving into genre exploration. For instance, historical fiction allows you to transport readers to different time periods, bringing history to life through compelling characters and narratives.

Engaging in writing exercises like flash fiction can help you develop concise storytelling skills while experimenting with different themes and genres. Using creative writing prompts, such as fantasy worldbuilding, can spark your imagination and enable you to construct intricate and immersive fictional worlds.

If you’re interested in exploring the depths of the human psyche, try your hand at character analysis in a psychological thriller.

Don’t shy away from craft techniques like experimental poetry, where you can push the boundaries of language and form to create unique and thought-provoking pieces.

Utilizing Imagery and Symbolism

Immerse readers in powerful imagery to enhance the symbolism in your writing. Use descriptive language for an immersive experience.

Experiment with symbolism analysis by incorporating symbolic elements that represent deeper meanings or themes in your writing. Engage in creative writing exercises that challenge you to incorporate symbolism and imagery in unique and thought-provoking ways.

Expand your repertoire of literary tools by using metaphorical expressions that add layers of meaning to your writing.

Remember to write with sensory details, appealing to your readers’ senses and making your writing come alive in their minds.

Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block

When you find yourself stuck, creative prompts can serve as a catalyst to generate ideas and inspiration.

Overcoming perfectionism is crucial; allow yourself to write freely and without judgment.

Sometimes, changing environments can provide a fresh perspective and stimulate your creativity.

Incorporating mindfulness techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing, can help you relax and focus your mind.

Seeking feedback and collaboration can also be beneficial; join writing groups or share your work with trusted individuals for constructive criticism and support.

Revision Editing and Proofreading Techniques for Creative Writing

To improve your creative writing, start by revising, editing, and proofreading your work using various techniques. Here are some revision and editing strategies to enhance your writing:

  • Experiment with different revision techniques to refine your work and make it stronger.
  • Try reading your work aloud to identify any awkward phrasing or errors.
  • Use the ‘cut and paste’ method to rearrange scenes or paragraphs for better flow.
  • Take a break from your manuscript and come back to it with fresh eyes.
  • Seek collaborative feedback to gain different perspectives and improve your writing.
  • Join writing groups or workshops to receive constructive criticism and suggestions.
  • Work with skilled editors or writing coaches who can provide valuable insights.
  • Value the importance of collaboration in refining and perfecting your work.
  • Develop a distinctive voice to captivate readers and create a memorable reading experience.
  • Ensure your characters’ voices reflect their background, beliefs, and values.
  • Pay attention to word choice and language to create a unique and engaging voice.
  • Aim for an emotional and storytelling drive in your writing.

The Role of Feedback in Creative Writing

Feedback techniques play a crucial role in honing your writing abilities. When giving constructive criticism, focus on providing specific, actionable suggestions aligned with the writer’s goals.

It does not tell the recipient ‘you are bad’ or ‘I am better’. Rather, it is driven by an ethos of ‘let’s make this stronger, together’. https://www.nownovel.com/blog/constructive-writing-feedback/

Start with positive elements before addressing areas that need improvement.

By incorporating the peer review process, you can receive valuable insights from fellow writers. Receiving feedback gracefully is essential.

Assess the tone of the feedback, ignore mean-spirited comments, and detach yourself from the feedback by pretending it’s for another author. Look for supporting statements and examples that can help you grow as a writer.

Clearly state the type of feedback you’re seeking upfront and disregard feedback that doesn’t align with your specific needs.

Incorporating feedback effectively is the key to enhancing your creative writing skills.

Understanding the Publishing Process

Understanding the publishing process is vital. Here are key points to consider:

  • The publishing industry in the digital age : The rise of digital platforms has changed the way books are published and consumed. E-books and self-publishing have gained popularity, offering authors more control over their work. Traditional publishing still has its advantages, such as wider distribution and professional editing.
  • The role of literary agents in the publishing process : Literary agents act as intermediaries between authors and publishers, helping authors find the right publishing opportunities. They negotiate contracts, provide editorial guidance, and help build the author’s career.
  • Challenges faced by first-time authors in getting published : Competition is fierce, and publishers receive countless submissions. Building a strong author platform and networking can increase chances of getting noticed. Rejection is common, but persistence is key.
  • The future of book publishing in a changing market : Technology will continue to shape the industry, with the rise of audiobooks and immersive reading experiences. Self-publishing will continue to grow, giving authors more opportunities to get their work out there. Adapting to changing reader preferences and embracing new technologies will be crucial for success.

The Impact of Digital Media on Creative Writing

While digital media has transformed the landscape of creative writing, it has also presented new opportunities and challenges for writers like you.

One major impact is the emergence of online communities, where writers can connect, share ideas, and receive feedback on their work. These communities provide a supportive environment for writers to grow and improve their craft.

Interactive storytelling has become more prevalent , allowing readers to actively engage with the narrative and shape the outcome. Digital storytelling platforms have also revolutionized the way stories are told, with multimedia elements enhancing the reader’s experience.

Writing in the digital age has opened up online publishing opportunities, giving writers the chance to reach a global audience and showcase their work in new and exciting ways.

Exploring Careers in Creative Writing

If you’re passionate about creative writing, there are various career paths you can explore. Here are some options to consider:

  • Fiction Writer : Understanding the basics of storytelling, character development, and the importance of setting. Crafting compelling dialogue and narrative arcs to engage readers.
  • Screenwriter : Learning the art of visual storytelling and scriptwriting. Developing strong characters and creating captivating dialogue for film or television.
  • Playwright : Mastering the techniques of dramatic writing and stagecraft. Creating dialogue that brings characters to life on the stage.

Exploring these careers in creative writing will allow you to express your creativity, engage with audiences, and bring your stories to life in various mediums.

Books for Improving Your Creative Writing Skills

Check out these recommended books that cover a wide range of topics to help you become a better writer.

Whether you want to understand character development, craft compelling dialogue, explore different genres, overcome writer’s block, or learn effective revision techniques, these books have got you covered.

These books offer valuable insights, practical tips, and techniques to help you improve your creative writing skills. So, whether you’re struggling with character development, dialogue, finding your writing style, or just need some inspiration, pick up one of these books and take your writing to the next level. Don’t let writer’s block hold you back—unlock your creativity and unleash your potential with these essential resources.

Further reading

Once you have finished reading the recommended books, you can delve deeper into the world of creative writing with these additional resources.

Here are some further resources to help you enhance your writing skills:

  • Online writing communities : Joining online writing communities can provide you with valuable feedback, support, and inspiration from fellow writers.
  • Creative writing workshops : Participating in creative writing workshops can help you refine your craft, learn new techniques, and receive expert guidance.
  • Writing prompts : Utilize writing prompts to spark your creativity and challenge yourself to write in different styles and genres.

These resources won’t only expand your knowledge of creative writing but also provide you with opportunities to connect with other writers and gain valuable insights from experienced professionals.

Keep exploring and honing your skills to become the best writer you can be.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can i find inspiration for my creative writing.

Try unconventional sources like nature or everyday objects. Use visual prompts to spark your imagination. Draw inspiration from your travel experiences, music, and childhood memories.

What Are Some Common Mistakes to Avoid in Creative Writing?

When writing creatively, be mindful of common misconceptions, such as overusing cliches. Don’t neglect character development, maintain consistent pacing, and execute dialogue effectively. Avoid these mistakes to enhance your creative writing skills.

How Do I Develop a Unique Writing Style?

To develop a unique writing style, experiment with structure, explore different genres, embrace personal experiences, incorporate vivid imagery, and balance dialogue and narrative. These techniques will help you to stand out and create a distinct voice in your writing.

What Are Some Effective Strategies for Self-Editing and Revising My Work?

To effectively self-edit and revise your work , use proofreading techniques, seek peer feedback, utilize grammar checkers, follow an editing checklist, and employ revision strategies. These methods will help refine and improve your writing.

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Eduardo Carvalho

Eduardo has been teaching creative writing since 2020 at a Brazilian publishing house and created the Driven Writer website to help more people with writing tips. He has written the novel Over the river with a releasing date somewhere in 2024.

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How professionals write and publish their books.

It’s time to write your book.

Scribe Professional

The Scribe Professional Package is an interview-based book writing and publishing service (similar to ghostwriting).

It’s designed for entrepreneurs, consultants, and executives who want to write and publish a professional book in their words and in their voice—but don’t have the time or desire to type it themselves.

What’s Included in Scribe Pro?

Scribe Pro includes everything you need to validate and develop your book idea, then write and edit it, design and publish it, and get it out to the world.

Completed Book Manuscript

  • Your idea will be validated (or not) before we begin work
  • We will help structure and position it into the best possible book
  • Comprehensive interviews to get your ideas out of your head and into a book that’s in your words and your voice

Published Book

  • A beautifully designed cover and interior layout
  • Full coordination of all publishing details (ISBN, bio, description, etc.)
  • Hardcover, paperback, and eBook formats included
  • You retain all rights and ownership of the book


  • Full printing services, with the ability to order unlimited copies at production cost (with an initial 100-copy gift from us)
  • Full distribution through major online retailers (Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, iBooks)
  • You keep 100% of royalties

Launch and Promotion

  • Targeted Amazon Bestseller Strategy
  • Complete strategy and templates to secure early Amazon reviews
  • A full set of social media posts and graphics for launch week
  • Email strategy and templates to help leverage your network

Optional Add-Ons

Audiobook — $6,000.

Scribe can facilitate the creation, production, and distribution of an audiobook version of your book. The audiobook will be recorded by a voice actor at a professional studio and available for purchase on Audible.com, Amazon.com, iTunes, and Spotify.


We can work with you to create a foundational marketing plan your book deserves, so you can share your message and build credibility as a professional author. Full details upon request.

See What Authors Have to Say About Our Services

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Cameron Herold Meetings Suck, Vivid Vision, and Free PR

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Brita Long The Happier Attorney , and Soon She Will Be Dead

I have said it before and I will say it again. Going through this entire process has been amazing and has changed my life.


I have said it before and I will say it again. Going through this entire process has been amazing and has changed my life. I don’t know that I have ever had such an amazing team who TOTALLY has my back, in my entire life. I absolutely can’t imagine trying to write a book without this support, knowledge, and love

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Robin Farmanfarmaian The Patient as CEO, & The Thought Leader Formula

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Mary Hagerman The Black Belt Investor

My scribe jumped into my socks and made my story and my teaching points come to life through every chapter. I never would have finished my book without Scribe. Everyone from my scribe to my publishing manager was always so upbeat and encouraging.

There is a real need for women speakers, especially in the financial world. I still can’t believe it when people come up to me and say I’m a role model for women everywhere. I just want young girls and families everywhere to have the opportunities I never did.

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Will Leach Marketing to Mindstates

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Quan Huynh Sparrow in the Razorwire

Thanks to the #scribetribe for your support, love, and acceptance. I never could have got this far without you all.

Thanks to the #scribetribe for your support, love, and acceptance. I never could have got this far without you all. Tucker, thanks for telling me to shut up and to get out to Austin (for the workshop) when I was doubting that I even had a story. Everyone else, this is so possible!

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Shannon Miles The Third Option

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Josh Mantz The Beauty of a Darker Soul

First, please let me say that the entire process has been absolutely phenomenal. After going through this process, it is blatantly obvious that I never would have been able to produce this product on my own.

First, please let me say that the entire process has been absolutely phenomenal. After going through this process, it is blatantly obvious that I never would have been able to produce this product on my own. Never! Your team has been a pleasure to work with at every step and are highly professional and experienced. It’s turned into what’s arguably the most therapeutic thing I’ve ever done, and I’m excited to leverage this effort to drive change within the behavioral health community.

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Melissa Gonzalez The Pop-Up Paradigm

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How the Scribe Pro Process Works

We have a proven, proprietary process that will get the best possible book out of you—but be entirely your ideas, in your words, and in your voice. The entire process typically lasts 9 months if the author stays on schedule.

Book Strategy Consult

The first step—before you begin your book—is to make sure you actually have a book in you, and determine whether our method is the right one for you.

To do this, you will speak with an Author Strategist who will help you get clear on three things:

  • Your book idea
  • The audience you’re trying to reach (and how your book will serve them)
  • The objectives you hope the book will help you achieve (like making money with a book , or using a book to build your brand )

Note that this is not a sales call. This is about determining whether you have a book in you and whether our company is the right fit to help you write it.

Our process does not work for everyone. If we determine that we’re not a good fit for each other, we’ll happily refer you to a service or company that can meet your needs.

Assemble your Publishing Team

To begin the process, you’ll meet your Publishing Manager. They’re your main point of contact and will assemble your creative team.

Your Publishing Manager’s primary job is to ensure that your book is as good as possible and publishes on time.

On the introduction call they will get to know you and your book idea to collect enough information from you to match you with a Scribe (which is like an editor).

Our professional book writers (we call them Scribes) all have decades of book writing experience and range in experience from former Executive Editors of major publishing houses to Emmy Award-winning writers, high-ranking political speechwriters, Editors-in-Chief of national magazines, and bestselling authors (we even have a Scribe who won a Pulitzer Prize).

When pairing Scribes with authors , we look at two key variables:

Q. Are they excited to work with this author on this book? Q. Do they bring anything to the book that might help the author?

We answer this question more in-depth in our FAQs .

On your first call with your Scribe, they start creating the “North Star” of your book.

This will be similar to the Book Strategy consult call, but will go into much greater depth and accomplish these things:

  • Specifically articulate what your book is about
  • Define exactly who your audience is
  • Understand precisely how your book will serve that audience and why they will care about your book
  • Specifically articulate how you will use the book to benefit you

Once the book is properly framed in your North Star, your Scribe will create a Table of Contents and Book “Roadmap.” The Roadmap will be a guide for your interviews and will help you define your ideas, sharpen your thinking, and lay the foundation for your book.

Sample questions to expect while building the Roadmap:

Q. What does your audience need to understand? Q. Are there steps to get them there? What are they? Q. What stories and examples do you have to support your points?

The interviews represent the “meat” of your book and get all of your content, stories, and knowledge out of your head and onto a recording.

These calls are exactly what they sound like: your Scribe will get on the phone with you for 90 to 120 minutes and interview you about a section of your book. This usually happens over the course of about 4-6 calls total, and you can expect to talk through 1-2 chapters per call.

Note: You’ll see the written pages of these calls almost from the beginning of the interview calls. These Preview Pages allow us to progressively refine the voice and tone early on, so that your full manuscript, once it’s written, reads and feels exactly the way you want it.

First Pages

Your Scribe works from the transcripts to translate your spoken language into a beautifully written manuscript that will resonate with your audience.

In addition to the Preview Pages mentioned above, they’ll write a single chapter and go over it with you to make sure they’re nailing the right voice. Once you and your Scribe work through and agree on this chapter’s voice, your Scribe will finish the rest of your manuscript.

Manuscript Revisions

From there, you will do one full round of revisions on the entire manuscript. This usually entails you reading a few chapters at a time, making notes, and doing a series of calls with your Scribe to go over your revisions.

Book Design

The same team that has created covers for 21 NYT & WSJ bestsellers designs your book inside and out.

It starts with you telling us what you envision for your book. Our team will align your creative ideas with your book content to complete a design brief.

We will create several different design comps and present them to you. The final say on all design decisions rests with you.

We will also design a professional interior for your book to ensure it looks and feels how you desire.

Publishing & Distribution

Your Publishing Manager will work with you to determine your distribution goals and retail channels. If you want the broadest distribution possible—Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, and as many international platforms as possible—we’ll provide the best options for you, handle all account and file creation, and make sure your book is prepared for launch.

As the book’s release approaches, we’ll prepare for your book release by designing social media graphics for you to post, drafting emails to send to your contacts, and providing exclusive access to the Scribe podcast masterclass & deliverables in a podcast starter kit.

When the book launches, we’ll run a pricing campaign on Amazon to spur initial sales, during which we’ll coordinate a review campaign to get early reviews for the book. We’ll launch an email campaign to your contacts, release your book through email lists we have relationships with, promote your book on social media and social news sites, and publish & promote an excerpt from the book.

The goal of this first week is to finish with a baseline of reviews, readers, and media attention to continue building from—with the advice in your marketing plan—as you begin your life as a published author.

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Author Success Story

How robin farmanfarmaian became “robin inc” and broke through the glass ceiling, who should use scribe professional.

  • People who are writing non-fiction books
  • People whose books fall within the broad genres of business or personal development or something at the intersection of those
  • People whose books will share knowledge that impacts the readers
  • People who want to write their book but don’t have time to do it themselves
  • People who want to write their book but don’t like the act of writing

Who Should Not

  • People who want to write a novel or fictional book
  • People who don’t know why they want to write a book
  • People who don’t care about the quality of their book
  • People who want to do the writing themselves

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, you’re the sole author of your book, and it’s entirely in your voice. The book is created from interviews with you—you are the only one contributing the ideas, knowledge, and content to the book (and with the  Guided Author Program , you actually write it out as well). All we do is help you with the parts of book writing that you aren’t an expert at: positioning, structuring, etc.

Simply put, hiring a traditional ghostwriter means that your book will not really be your ideas in your words. With the Scribe process, your book is entirely your ideas and your words, in your own voice.

In most of the publishing world, ghostwriters start with your book concept and a few of your ideas, then create a book using their own words, tone, and voice. It won’t sound like it came from you, because it generally doesn’t. In essence, a ghostwriter writes a book, and you pay them so that you can put your name on it. It’s not really your book.

With Scribe, your book is authored solely by you. The ideas and words and content are entirely yours and are in your voice (this is true of Scribe Professional as well as Scribe Elite ). We put nothing in your book that did not come out of your head and your mouth. We like to say that we help you translate your ideas into a proper, professional book, but all meaningful parts of authorship are yours, making you the sole author.

The two other differences are these:

  • Traditional ghostwriters give you a manuscript, and they do nothing else. We do it all—including full publishing and distribution.
  • A good ghostwriter is much more expensive than our process (good ones usually run about $100k+).

If you don’t know what you’re talking about, then you need to hire a traditional ghostwriter. That way the ghostwriter can do the research and write a book that makes sense, and you get to have your name on it.

The coolest part of the Scribe process is that you end up working with some of the very best editing and ghostwriting talent in the world—you just do it through our systematic and defined process. Many of our Scribes are former ghostwriters, but they love working with us (and our authors) because with us, they can avoid most of the problems that freelancers have: finding good clients, negotiating terms of the deal, collecting payment, limiting the scope of the work, etc.

Our systematic process is actually better for authors and for freelancers, because it creates a clear set of expectations and deliverables, a defined workflow, and ensures there is a trusted third party—Scribe—to monitor everything and ensure that it works. Our roster of freelancers includes Pulitzer Prize winners, Emmy Award winners, bestselling authors, bestselling ghostwriters, etc.

This creates a three-way relationship where everyone wins: you publish a great book, the freelancer gets paid well for work they enjoy, and we make a profit by coordinating the whole exchange.

We wrote a much longer piece on the differences between ghostwriting and the Scribe process. You can it read here.

We understand the importance of the Scribe-Author relationship, and we do everything we can to ensure a great fit.

To begin with, we thoroughly vet and test all our Scribes. It’s easier to get into Harvard (6% acceptance rate) than it is to work with us as a Scribe (<1% acceptance rate). Not only that, but our Scribes have spent at least a decade (usually longer) in writing and publishing, and many of them are highly decorated—Pulitzer Prize winners, Emmy nominees and winners, and National Magazine Award winners.

To assign Scribes, we use a matchmaking system to pair up the right Scribe and Author. Here’s how it works: We get to know you, your book, and how you work. Then we create a “Project Scope” for your book and share it with all of our Scribes. Those who would like to work on your book make their interest known, and then we arrange up to three one-on-one matchmaking calls between you and the potential Scribe. Then you get to select the one who seems like the best fit.

Even with this system, there are rare cases in which the Author and Scribe end up not being a good fit. When this happens, we’re happy to find a replacement Scribe.

Yes and no.

Many Authors come to us having written quite a bit of material. Regardless of what they have written, we always start at the beginning of our process and work through the positioning and outlining stages. After the structure is done, we can assess whether any of your existing writing fits into the book. If it does, great. We will happily slide it in.

We do it this way because we’ve found that starting fresh enables Authors to prioritize exactly what they want to get from their book, what audience they need to reach, and what they have to offer that audience (this is positioning).

Often when this becomes clear, it turns out that what they’ve already written is not directly on point for the end result they want, and we don’t want preexisting material to bias decisions or lead them astray.

It’s fairly common for authors to be unsatisfied with their rough draft—almost all Authors feel this way about their book at some point in the process.

That is why we have multiple rounds of revisions and corrections. We provide ample opportunity for feedback and rewriting. As a result, virtually all of our Authors are happy with their book by the time it gets to the final stage.

But what if—after all the edits and changes—you still don’t like your book? This is possible. It’s impossible to 100% guarantee your happiness with your book, especially given that it is your ideas and your words and your voice.

But we will do everything we can on our end to ensure that you get the book you want. If that means assigning multiple editors to work on it, we’ll do it. If it means multiple editing passes, then we’ll do that. Our goal is to get the best book possible out of you. Anything reasonable we can do to achieve that, we will do.

Your book cover and manuscript interior layout will be designed by world class designers, but you have full creative control.

Our Creative Director has done dozens of New York Times Best Sellers, as well as the other book cover designers we’ve worked with. Combined, they have worked on over 100 best sellers that have sold millions of copies. You are getting the very best in design, because having a great book cover is a key to establishing your book as credible and professional.

Before we start the design process, you’ll have a long conversation with the Creative Director to understand your vision for the cover (if you have any). We organize this information into a design brief and use it to create a series of initial cover designs, which you will review and give feedback on. Just like all parts of our process, you will have full, 100% approval of your cover.

Book length is entirely dependent on the specific Author and the topic of their book. We don’t adhere to a fixed length but generally find that most books end up around 150 pages.

We’ve researched this extensively and found that for nonfiction books, this is the optimal length—both for Authors and their readers. It is not an intimidating length, so readers are more likely to buy and actually read the book. For Authors providing information, this length results in a book that is substantive but not repetitive or padded. We believe that books should only be as long as they have to be to make their point.

Your publishing team, which will be led by your Publishing Manager. They are your main point of contact and are in charge of ensuring you get a great book.

Almost all of the writing will be done by your Scribe. They are a professional writer and editor that has spent at least a decade working in books.

You will conceptualize your book cover with the help of our Creative Director, who has done dozens of bestselling book covers. It will be designed by her or one of her team, and you will talk to our Art Director for feedback and revisions.

Your marketing efforts will be led by our book launch and PR team to ensure your book reaches its audience and achieves your goals as a newly published Author.

It’s time to write your book. We can help.

If you’re serious about writing and publishing your book this year, let’s talk.

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Everyone’s a Critic: Some pointers for writing book reviews

Writing a book review is something that you’ll very likely be asked to do as part of your OCA courses in creative writing at some point. It’s a good way to begin looking at books critically, and it’s also something you could use to keep a record of books that you’ve read to help you decide what you really think of them! 

You might have heard it said that to be a part of a writing community, it’s good to try and give something back to other writers. It’s something that can be done in many ways; organising events, starting a magazine or online platform for other writers, and sharing work you’ve enjoyed on social media. You might also find it in book reviewing; whether it’s a paragraph on Amazon or Goodreads, or a more weighty piece to pitch to a magazine. 

Here are a few pointers you might want to consider in embarking on a book review: 

Give some context

It’s always a good idea to make it clear where you’re coming from with any book. Is this author completely new to you? Have you read everything they’ve ever written and keenly pre-ordered this one two months before it came out? If you’re reviewing a book your best mate has just published, it’s also probably fair to come clean on this too. It doesn’t mean your review won’t be valid, it’s just declaring your bias before you proceed. 

Good Points First

The author you’re reviewing is most definitely a real person and they might read this review, should it make its way out into the world. So pick the good points out first, a good 2-3 of them, and make this the opening element of the review. 

If you can’t find any good points…

It’s probably best not to write the review. I’m not saying every review has to be sycophantic by any means, but if you really couldn’t find anything in it, then you’re not the book’s target audience. If you find the book offensive, then this may be something you want to write about it, but the format of a review is probably not exactly the right place to do so. You might want to contact the publisher or author directly with your concerns, or you could write a more polemical article. 

Qualify your statements 

Especially the negative ones. It’s lazy reviewing to say ‘this book left me cold’ or ‘this did nothing for me’ without pinpointing exactly why you didn’t get what you’d hoped from it, or how you feel the author has failed to do what they set out to. Be as constructive as you can – imagine that you’re offering feedback rather than tearing the book to shreds. 

A few questions to get you started

Not all of these will necessarily be relevant, but: What are the main themes of the book? Are the characters believable? Does it intrigue you? Did you enjoy it from the beginning or did it take a few pages to get into? Do you like this as much as their last book? Is it too long or too short? Does the story become predictable or defy your expectations? Are all their poems about the same subject, or do they span a range of themes and forms? Do you agree with what happens to the characters? Is it easy to inhabit the world of the book? Does the book engage with any social / political ideas that particularly interest you, or you feel are relevant? What wider conversations is it speaking into? Is there anything you’d change, and what? 

2 thoughts on “ Everyone’s a Critic: Some pointers for writing book reviews ”

What a great subject for a post. And this advice is very clear and useful!

Thank you for writing this, I think I’ll make a copy to keep with my book reviews as it will help me to focus on the important things to mention. I think the questions to get me started will prove especially useful. Thanks again.

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Kindred Grace

How to Write Creative Book Reviews

I don’t know about you, but I thrive on following rules.  This isn’t always the best thing, and it’s something that God has been working on in me for quite a few years.  Back in my in-school years though, it was out full-force.  I loved it when an assignment told me exactly what to do.  I could do precisely what it asked for and turn it in knowing that I had done a complete job and fulfilled every requirement.  This wasn’t necessarily a bad approach, but let’s just say it didn’t do  much for my creativity, especially when I applied it to writing!

Yes, we had “creative writing” time when I would let my imagination and pen wander at will (it was even a real pen then, and not a keyboard!), but assign me a report on anything and any accumulated creativity flew out the window.  I have distinct memories of my freer-spirited sister and I critiquing each other’s reports (we were only a grade apart and so my mom had us sometimes do that as a writing exercise) — I found all her grammar mistakes and she repeatedly made the point that my reports were incredibly dry and boring!

During those years, when I set out to write a book report/review, the steps were quite simple.  I needed to give a brief synopsis of the book’s contents and main points, summarize the things I did and didn’t like in the book, and let the reader know if I would recommend the book or not.  The end.  So I did that and thought I was doing great.  My mom tried to communicate to me different ways that I could make my writing more interesting, but unfortunately my rule-following brain didn’t take in much of it (my poor mom had to put up with so much from me in school!).

Fast forward to the years after I graduated from high school, and I was starting to enjoy writing more.  I also started to read more book reviews done by others, mostly on blogs.  And I noticed something — in the really good book reviews, the author didn’t just tell me about book, but related to the book and/or told me a story about the book . This was a huge step beyond the “this book is about such-and-such and I liked it because of such-and-such” reviews I had been writing.  

As the reader, I realized that making the review personal and story-related causes it to stick in the reader’s mind.   Nowadays, if I want a book summary, I can go to Amazon and easily get their brief synopsis.  If I’m really brave, and want to hear what people did and did not like about it, I can read the Amazon reviews.  However, chances are, I probably won’t read the book if all I hear is the plot summary and the pros and cons. But, if I’m reading someone’s blog and they share a story from their life and how it relates to a specific book, I’m much more likely to read that book.

Here are three tips for writing more creative book reviews.

1. Relate your experience reading the book.

Anyone can find out the main points of a book by checking the chapter list or the Amazon preview. Let someone in on your own personal experience reading the book. Tell them about what your children said when you read it to them, what made you laugh, or what memories you have associated with reading it.  Share where you where you were at while reading (either geographically or emotionally/spiritually) or the snacks you enjoyed as you read.  Make the post enjoyable to read even if someone doesn’t care about the specific book you’re writing about.

Examples:  “More Heat, More Butter, More Salt” a review of Bread & Wine  from Natasha and  a review of 84 Charing Cross Road  from Lanier

2. Tell a story related to the book.

Sometimes it takes writing the review part, putting that safely out of sight, and then telling the story part reintegrating parts of the review without ever looking back at it.  Most likely, if a person is reading your review of a book, they already want to hear your stories.  And stories are always more exciting than a chapter-by-chapter analysis!

Example: “Living with Intention in a Chaotic World” a review of Notes from a Blue Bike  from Jennifer Dukes Lee

3. Share a nugget from the book.

One of my goals is always to make sure that someone has a real take-away to chew on after reading the book review, so that even if they never buy the book they can feel like the book and author have touched their lives.  And in this world of random pinnable quotes everywhere, knowing that a particular piece of truth has resonated with the person writing the review makes me much more likely to seriously look at what they share from the book.

Example: A Million Little Ways : Why I Love This Book a review from Trina

What are your favorite aspects of book reviews? Comment and tell us! Have you read a creative review lately? Please share the link!

  • Steps to Writing a Book Review by Rachelle Rea
  • How to Review a Book by Tim Challies
  • How to Write Better Online Reviews by Jonathan Rogers
  • How to Make Your Favorite Book a Bestseller by Gretchen Louise

Photo Credit: Jenni Marie Photography

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A wife and mama who loves her life of learning to know her Father, loving her amazing husband and babies, and keeping her little house amidst the green.

This is so timely as I am just about to post a book review. I have done some editing after reading this list! Story is so important in connecting with our readers- thanks for reminding me!

  • Pingback: What Book Bloggers Want Authors to Know - Rachelle Rea

I can so relate Jessica! Since I write a lot of book reviews on my blog, I really appreciated these ideas.

Jessica, love this. Thanks for sharing your take on it–you’ve influenced me to be more intentional about story in my own reviews! Thanks for that! 🙂

Ohh! I loved this article even better the second time around! Thank you for writing about this. 🙂

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I wish I had never trusted them, full of promises and money back if not satisfied. How wrong was I. Being so naive they took thousands changing my managers just to con me out of more services I didn't need. They still owe me big time and they disappeared for a while leaving me in the dark. Now I have found them again they don't respond. DO NOT TRUST THEM THEIR SHARKS

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Date of experience : March 26, 2024

Reply from Creative Book Writers

Dear Denise Cantu, We are truly disheartened to hear about your experience, and we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience or frustration caused. Your feedback is invaluable to us as we continuously strive to improve our services and ensure the utmost satisfaction of our clients. We understand the gravity of the situation and are committed to resolving it promptly. Please know that this does not reflect the standard of service we aim to provide. We would like to extend our sincerest apologies for any miscommunication or lack of responsiveness you may have experienced. Could you please provide us with more details regarding your project and the issues you encountered? We are eager to investigate this matter further and work towards a resolution that meets your expectations. Your satisfaction is of the utmost importance to us, and we would appreciate the opportunity to make things right. Please feel free to reach out to us directly at [email protected] so that we can address your concerns promptly and effectively. Once again, we apologize for any inconvenience caused and thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. Sincerely, Team Creative Book Writers

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Date of experience : September 08, 2021

Dear James Junior, Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback on our Trustpilot profile. We appreciate your honesty and the opportunity to address your concerns. We take customer satisfaction seriously, and we apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced. Our team is committed to providing excellent service, and we want to ensure that your issues are resolved to your satisfaction. To better assist you, we kindly ask you to reach out to our customer support team at 866-260-7604 or via email at [email protected]. Our dedicated representatives are available to listen to your concerns, answer any questions you may have, and work towards a resolution. Your feedback is invaluable to us as we continuously strive to improve our services. We understand that issues may arise, and we are here to make things right. Please provide us with an opportunity to address your specific situation and enhance your experience with our brand. We look forward to hearing from you and appreciate your patience as we work to resolve this matter promptly. Best regards, Team Creative Book Writers

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