I have been asked many times throughout my writing career – what books are the best guides for new writers? There are many good books you can purchase online or at bookstores today that can help you in your quest to be a better writer. There are a few that I have recommended time and time again; they have stood the test of time. Here I list 5 of my favourite writing helpers.
Elements of Style: First published in 1919, the best way to describe Strunk and White’s grammar guide is ‘indispensable’. Every writer should have a copy. I bought my first copy when I was 18-years-old. This classic includes rules of usage, principles of style and commonly misused words.
On Writing Well: The first edition of this guide to writing non-fiction came out in the early 80’s. At the beginning of chapter 2, titled ‘Simplicity”, William Zinsser writes, “Clutter is the disease of American writing. We are a society strangling in unnecessary words, circular constructions, pompous frills and meaningless jargon”. On Writing Well guides the reader through writing, re-writing, the lead, the interviewing process and the ending. Some have even called it the “natural companion to the Elements of Style”.
Punctuate it Right: My late mother was a huge supporter of my passion to write. She gave me my first copy of Punctuate it Right by Harry Shaw. I had expressed to her before I entered high school that I felt my future career would involve writing. She saw this book and purchased it for me not realizing that it was the ultimate punctuation guide at that time for junior high, high school, college, university, as well as business executives.
How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One: This writing guide explores the art of language. At times author Stanley Fish challenges Strunk and White’s guide by outlining the strong virtues of beautiful language from writers such as Shakespeare. Still many writing critics agree that it is a great tool to grab if you want to be a well-rounded writer.
How to Write Creative Non-fiction: This book was written and produced by educator, journalist, editor and author, Donna Kay Kakonge. I discovered this helpful guide when Kakonge became the editor of my non-fiction book “Girl Power: Chronicles of the True Power of Female Friendships”. This book sells all over the world and is a wonderful tool for those who are considering writing a book or magazine article. The best part about this book is that it teaches you through step-by-step guided exercises, how to make a living at writing either full-time, part-time or as a supplemental income.
There are many other books that can assist you whether you are just beginning or if you are a veteran writer. The more books you read, the more confident you will become in your ability to craft great sentences.