Though I’m hardly an expert on the craft of writing, there are a few books I have stumbled across over the years that I think would be beneficial to anyone seriously considering writing. I’ll add to this list as I find more:
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
While the first and last thirds of this book contain the author’s autobiography, the middle section consists of King’s tips on writing practices. It’s more about the process of writing than the technical side (though this is also discussed). Everyone works differently, so the methods he suggests may help one writer while hindering another, but it’s worth at least having a look at it to see if you can tailor his advice to suit your writing habits.
The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White
This book is pretty much the go-to guide for basic grammar, word usage and sentence structure. It also includes topics such as tense and commonly misused words. They’re always releasing new editions of this book, so finding a copy should be fairly easy. I’m often tempted to buy a few copies and pass them out as Christmas and birthday presents, but it probably wouldn’t make me too popular…
The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones
When last I checked, this book was out of print, and since the author recently passed away, I’m guessing it’s unlikely to return to print. However, if you can get a copy I would highly recommend it, particularly if you are a fantasy writer. On the outside it is a humourous journey through a fantasy world, but it also serves as a guide for common cliches found in the fantasy genre, and can therefore help authors avoid these cliches in their own writing.
Feel free to suggest any other useful writing books in the comments.