WARNING: Reading books about writing, and websites about writing, and collections of famous writers’ letters about writing is not, in fact, writing.  Beware the subtle temptations of spending too long doing this stuff and not actually getting the words on the page.

Favourite Books


Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain. An oldie, but a goodie.  Packed with practical helpful advice on writing commercial fiction.

Lights, Camera, Fiction by Alfie Thomson. Fun and useful guide that teaches you about novel writing by referring to films. Packed with the kind of ‘should have been obvious’ advice that makes you mentally slap your forehead, and when you watch the films, you’re actually doing research instead of just kidding yourself. What could be cooler?

The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler. Explains plot structure and characters using Joseph Campbell’s theory of the universal myth and recurring archetypes. Easy to read, and the perfect tool for helping you figure out what’s missing from your plot, or what should happen next.

Teach Yourself Writing a Novel by Nigel Watts. Part of the “Teach Yourself” series, and a complete and concise view of techniques and concepts in novel writing.

On Writing by Stephen King.  Whether or not you’re a fan, King is one of the most prolific and popular writers of his generation.  On Writing is not only a fascinating memoir, but full of useful information from a master of the craft of getting, and keeping, an audience hooked.

Story by Robert McKee. Even though this book is written for screenplay writers, it is full of invaluable advice on plot structure, realisitic dialogue and making every written word count, making it essential for novel writers too.


Seven Secrets of the Prolific by Hilary Rettig.  If you’re struggling with motivation and just getting the words on the page, this one’s for you.  Friendly, fun, encouraging – and remarkably effective.

Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott. A more spiritual take on getting past the fear and on with the writing, and an interesting read.


Exercising your google-fu will find no end of sites with writing advice, news, and gossip, but on the right you’ll find a few that we’d particularly like to point out.