Writing "How-tos"

Supplementary Resource for CI Guide to Publishing Children's Book, 3rd Edition

Appendix B: Compiled by Harold Underdown

CI Guide Index

This page lists books recommended to me as I researched the Writing Guides chapter for the new edition of my book, or that I have learned about since then. Different books suit different people, so be sure to investigate several possibilitiies. Use this as a checklist as you explore, or click the links to read up on the books at Amazon.

Resources from Guide to Publishing Children's Books

Guides to Writing Children's Books

The Business of Writing for Children by Aaron Shepard

The Giblin Guide to Writing Children's Books by James Cross Giblin (detailed review)

How to Write a Children's Book and Get It Published (third edition) by Barbara Seuling: A good general introduction, covering several genres.

Take Joy by Jane Yolen: Practical and inspirational.

Picture Writing by Anastasia Suen (detailed review)

Writer's Guide to Crafting Stories for Children by Nancy Lamb: highly recommended for all writers of fiction.

Writing and Illustrating Children's Books for Publication by Berthe Amoss and Eric Suben

Writing Children's Books for Dummies by Lisa Rojany Buccieri and Peter Economy

Writing Fiction for Children: Stories Only You Can Tell by Judy Morris. Includes exercises. Best for MG fiction

Writing for Children and Teenagers by Lee Wyndham: A good general guide, widely available used.

Writing for Young Adults by Sherry Garland: Covers nonfiction as well as fiction. Out of print but available used.

You Can Write Children's Books by Tracey Dils: beginner's guide, workbook available also.

Writers Writing about Writing

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

Gates of Excellence by Katherine Paterson: essays on writing and children's literature.

On Becoming a Novelist by John Gardner: Hard to find but comforting in stating what a writer is.

On Writing by Stephen King: often recommended

On Writing for Children and Other People by Julius Lester

Starting from Scratch by Rita Mae Brown

Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew by Ursula LeGuin: More of a how-to than the others in this section. Recommended.

Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity by Ray Bradbury

Guides Addressing a Particular Genre, Topic, or Problem

Anatomy of Nonfiction, by Margery Facklam and Peggy Thomas: The only guide to writing NF for children--and fortunately it's excellent.

The Art and Craft of Writing Historical Fiction, by James Alexander Thom: A highly recommended guide to the genre.

Beginnings, Middles & Ends by Nancy Kress: part of the Writer's Digest Books series "Elements of Fiction."

Character & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card: also part of that series.

Children's Writer's Word Book by Alijandra Mogilner: Useful if you are uncertain about vocabulary that's appropriate for different grade levels, and particularly useful if you write for the educational market.

Creating Characters Kids Will Love by Elaine Marie Alphin: A guide to fiction with a focus on characters.

Creating Poetry by John Drury. A good general introduction to writing poetry. Writing Metrical Poetry (below) focuses specifically on poetic forms.

Fiction Is Folks: How to Create Unforgettable Characters by Robert Newton Peck: out of print, but may be found in the library.

Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go, by Les Edgerton: What the title says, and more, such as Surface vs. Story Problem.

How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card

On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser

Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell

Poem-Making: Ways to Begin Writing Poetry by Myra Cohn Livingston: A well-known poet for children explores the basics of poetry. Intended for children but useful for adults.

Scene and Structure by Jack M. Bickham, another title in Writer's Digest "Elements of Fiction" series.

Secrets of Successful Fiction by Robert Newton Peck

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne, Dave King, and George Booth: recommended by many writers.

Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular by L. Rust Hills

Writing Metrical Poetry by William Baer: A good introduction to a number of poetic forms.

Writing It Right! How Successful Children's Authors Revise and Sell Their Stories (link to detailed review) by Sandy Asher: As the title suggests, this focuses on the revising of actual manuscripts.

Writing Picture Books (link to detailed review) by Ann Whitford Paul: A comprehensive, practical guide to writing and revising picture books.

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. Workbook available too.

Guides to Creativity

The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron

Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art by Stephen Nachmanovitch: written by a musician for all creative artists.

Let the Crazy Child Write: Finding Your Creative Writing Voice by Clive Matson

Story Sparkers : A Creativity Guide for Children's Writers by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, and other titles by her

Feel free to contact me with suggestions or comments.

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