The Fiction Writer’s Shopping List

The Art of FictionIt’s the end of the semester, and my Advanced Fiction Workshop wants a list of books on writing to carry them through the holidays and beyond.  I put out a question on Facebook and got a wonderful collection of responses from colleagues and former students, which I have compiled here, in addition to my own recommendations. I’ve put an asterisk next to the titles from my original list. (Thanks to Melissa Duclos-Yourdon, Jonathan Packer, David Poplar, Rebecca Entel, Gemini Wahhaj, Raymond Rorke, Audrey Beth Stein, Valerie Ross, Margaret Russell, Mia Perry, Lucy Mattingly, Susan Goodell, Elizabeth Evans, and Rachel B. Glaser for their suggestions.)

The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot by Charles Baxter
Burning Down the House: Essays on Fiction by Charles Baxter
Bringing the Devil to His Knees, ed. Charles Baxter
Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft by Janet Burroway*
Narrative Design by Madison Smartt Bell*
What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers, ed. Anne Bernays*
The Half-Known World: On Writing Fiction by Robert Boswell
The Eleventh Draft, ed. by Frank Conroy.
Living By Fiction by Annie Dillard*
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard*
Teaching a Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard*
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
Aspects of the Novel by E.M. Forster*
The Art of Fictionby John Gardner*
On Moral Fiction by John Gardner*
On Becoming A Novelist by John Gardner
The Art of the Short Story, ed. Dana Gioia
Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular by Rust Hills
The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes
On Writing by Stephen King
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott*
Method and Madness by Alice LaPlante
Steering the Craft by Ursula K. LeGuin
The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers by Betsy Lerner*
The Art of Fiction by David Lodge*
The Practice of Writing by David Lodge*
Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich
Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose by Flannery O’Connor
Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays by Zadie Smith
The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life by Amy Tan
Master Class: Scenes from a Fiction Workshop by Paul West
How Fiction Works by James Wood*

Not about fiction, specifically, but great for writers:
Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace by Joseph Williams*
Vernacular Eloquence by Peter Elbow*
“Fearless Creating” by Eric Maisel

Exercises In Style by Raymond Queneau*
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg (visual prompts)*


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