Friday, September 16, 2005

Great Books for Writers

Whether you've been into writing all your life or you're just getting started, you know one of the best ways to learn about writing is to learn from the best. So here is my list of some of the "best" books for writers, especially children writers. The nuggets I've learned from these resources are invaluable, and I think you'll find them equally insightful. All of them are available at So let's get started...


The Writer's Market is perhaps the #1 resource for any professional writer. Not only does it have some good articles on all aspects of writing, but it also is jam-packed with listings of just about every available publisher out there, as well as agents, writer's organizations, websites and more. If you're serious about getting published, you have to know where to pitch your ideas--and the Writer's Market will tell you.

The Christian Market Writer's Guide is very much like The Writer's Market (above), but custom-tailored for the Inspirational market. If you write Christian/Inspirational material for any age group, this book by Sally E. Stuart should definately be on your shelf.

Insights into Writing for Children

Writing for Children and Teenagers is a good "overall" book about writing for preschoolers through teens. You'll find great tips on writing and submitting that picture book, as well as story structure for that middle-grade novel. It's a great place to get started.

The Children's Writer's Word Book by Alijandra Mogilner--there's nothing quite like it! If you write for children: BUY THIS BOOK. Inside you will find two valuable resources. 1) You'll discover lists of subjects and concepts that age groups of children can understand. This helps you know whether your idea is understandable by the age group you desire to reach. 2) It contains Thesaurus-like lists of words sorted by grade level. With this feature, you can "test" the words in your story to see if your target audience will understand them...and if not, you can usually find a simpler substitute.


Lew Hunter's Screenwriting 434 is a book I have torn apart and worn out. When it comes to plotting, Hollywood instructor Lew Hunter dissects screenplays so you can better understand characters, motivations, the three-act structure and plot secrets. I recommend this book to anyone who writes chapter books, even though it was really meant as a book for screenwriters. The principles of plotting are generally the same--and Lew teaches in an entertaining, non-threatening way.

Finally, 20 Master Plots (and How to Build Them) by Ronald B. Tobias is hands-down the most important book I own. I read chapters from this book every time I write a new book. If you plot your chapter book based on the guidelines in this book, your manuscript won't have the holes and missing plot elements that make so many promising manuscripts fall short. Whatever you do, add this book to your library. You won't be sorry.

Now, once you've built up your writing library, have fun reading, and then don't forget the most important thing to do next...write!

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