Recently we blogged about George Orwell’s ‘Six Questions and Six Rules’ for good writing. The piece drew such a rampant response that we decided to investigate which other pensmiths have had something interesting to say about the writerly craft.

Here we delve into six of the best books about writing, all composed by those at the sharp end of the profession.

The 38 Most Common Writing Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them), by Jack M. Bickham

Tips from the author of more than 75 published novels, including the ever-popular Apple Dumpling Gang. He’s acknowledged within the industry as a master of those all-important beginnings and endings.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King (above)

Not all writers concur with the horror-meister’s freewheeling approach to plotting (he allows narratives to develop organically as he goes along, rather than intensively planning everything out beforehand) but few would argue with his belief that without a cracking story, all the fancy prose in the world ain’t worth a dime….

Story, by Robert McKee

The author of dozens of scripts for movies and TV shows, McKee is, to those in the know, the God of breaking-down successful story mechanics into easily-replicable patterns. He uses screenplays rather than books as his examples, but the principles (such as the classic ‘three-act’ structure) remain the same, whatever the medium.

Characters and Viewpoint, by Orson Scott Card

“Vivid and memorable characters aren’t born: they have to be made,” says Scott Card, the author of dozens of books and short stories including the Ender’s Game saga, which is currently being filmed in Hollywood. While there are lots of good books written about ‘character’, what sets this book apart are Scott Card’s insights into ‘viewpoint’ – how to zoom in and out of your cast’s heads seamlessly and convincingly.

Zen in the Art of Writing, by Ray Bradbury

A timely choice considering Bradbury’s recent passing, the author of a squillion* short stories and novels urges would-be writers to “let the world burn through you”.

*approximate

Write to Sell, by Andy Maslen

Maslen, a guru among copywriters and marketers, offers practical tips on how to write the kind of sales copy which will have potential customers reaching for their wallets before they can say, “But I didn’t even want one of those twoodlepips.” Whether you’re selling cornflakes, cars or cat-flaps, Maslen’s your man.

For any bosses out there who think some tailored training would benefit their staff, our crack business copywriters at Wordsworks also provide professional writing workshops.

We’ll visit you at you place of work and have everyone sharpening their pencils, as well as their writing styles, no time.

Contact us to find out more.