It’s one thing to have a great story to tell; getting it out of your head and onto the page is another thing entirely. Over my time as an editor and a teacher of composition, a few resources have stood out as especially helpful:

The Complete Handbook Of Novel Writing (Writers Digest)
Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction (Jeff VanderMeer)
Writing the Other (Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward)
Manuscript Makeover (Elizabeth Lyon)
Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace (Joseph M. Williams and Joseph Bizup)
The Artist’s Way (Julia Cameron)

Of course, the best way to improve your writing and find your style as a writer is to read. Extensively.

What you read depends on who you are and the kind of writer you want to be.

Inspirational examples of genre writing you’d like to emulate are great, but reading lots of different voices and styles over multiple genres and time periods is even better. So, if you want to develop an ironic tone for your own writing, read Jane Austen (for example), even if the story you’re brewing is a futuristic political thriller or a space western.

If you’re writing historical fiction, read some historical fiction, sure. But remember that modern novels set in the past are interpretations of the past, just like yours will be. Throw some actual literature written during the period you’d like to write in there too – it’s out there, for every period since writing began. And (bonus) it can provide rich inspiration and texture for any type of writing or creative endeavour.

Whatever you read, you’ll find that the characteristics of writing you really respond to will bleed into your own writing, informing and developing your own unique style.

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