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Discovery is what drives all writing.

Betsy Warland, Breathing the Page: Reading the Act of Writing


Recommended Books on Writing and Editing

There are thousands of books out there for writers in all genres and fields. Here is my short list of some of the more inspirational, informative, and useful ones that I have used for years. If you have read a good book on writing or editing lately, email me and I may recommend it.


Getting started, keeping going


Style, punctuation, and usage

Getting Published


For your enjoyment


Natalie Goldberg, Old Friend From Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir, New York: Free Press, 2007.

Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within. Boston: Shambhala, 1986.

Francine Prose, Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them. New York: Harper Perennial, 2006.

Betsy Warland, Breathing the Page: Reading the Act of Writing. Toronto: Cormorant Books, 2010.

Getting started, keeping going

Jane Friedman blog

Jack Hodgins, A Passion for Narrative: A Guide to Writing Fiction. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1993.

Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. New York: Anchor Books, 1995.

Elizabeth Lyon, A Writer's Guide to Fiction. New York: Perigree, 2004.

Elizabeth Lyon, A Writer's Guide to Nonfiction. New York: Perigree, 2003.

Donald Maass, Writing the Breakout Novel. Cincinnati: Writer's Digest Books, 2001.

Brenda Miller and Suzanne Paola, Tell It Slant: Creating, Refining, and Publishing Creative Nonfiction, 3rd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2019.

Lois J. Peterson, 101 and More Writing Exercises to Get You Started and Keep You Going. Surrey: Metta Publications, 2006.

Christoper Vogler, The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd ed. Studio City, CA: Michael Wiese Productions, 2007.


Susan Bell, The Artful Edit: On the Practice of Editing Yourself. New York: W.W. Norton, 2007.

Renni Browne and Dave King, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print, 2nd ed. New York: HarperCollins, 2004.

Stanley Fish, How to Write a Sentence and How to Read One. New York: HarperCollins, 2011.

Constance Hale, Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose. New York: Broadway Books, 2001.

Constance Hale, Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch: Let Verbs Power Your Writing. New York: W.W. Norton, 2012.

Elizabeth Lyon, Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore. New York: Perigree, 2008.

William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction, 30th Anniversary Edition. New York: Collins, 2006.

Style, punctuation, and usage

Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2017.

Martin Cutts, Oxford Guide to Plain English. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Benjamin Dreyer, Dreyer's English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style. New York: Random House, 2019.

Bryan A. Garner, Garner's Modern English Usage, 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Patricia T. O'Conner, Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English, 4th ed. New York: Riverhead Books, 2019. From Woe Is I: "A good writer is one you can read without breaking a sweat."

Frances Peck, Peck's English Pointers, 2nd ed. Government of Canada Translation Bureau. Available here.

Steven Pinker, The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century. New York: Penguin, 2014.

Joseph M. Williams, Style: Toward Clarity and Grace. With two chapters coauthored by Gregory G. Colomb. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1990. (If you're serious, really serious, about improving your style, read this book.)

Getting Published

Julie Ferguson, Book Magic: Turning Writers into Published Authors. Port Moody: Beacon Publishing, 2008.

Elizabeth Lyon, Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write: How to Get a Contract and Advance Before Writing Your Book. New York: Perigree, 2000.

Elizabeth Lyon, The Sell Your Novel Tool Kit: Everything You Need to Know About Queries, Synopses, Marketing, and Breaking In. New York: Perigree, 1997.

Essential reference

Canadian Oxford Dictionary, 2nd ed. Don Mills: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed. Springfield: Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, 2008.


Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

The Chicago Manual of Style Online

Jane Friedman blog

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

Peck's English Pointers

For your enjoyment

Bill Bryson, Mother Tongue: The English Language. New York: HarperCollins, 2001.

Don Watson, Death Sentences: How Clichés, Weasel Words, and Management-Speak Are Strangling Public Language. Toronto: Viking Canada, 2003.

Simon Winchester, The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press, 2003.



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