Writing Guides For Your Top Shelf

Top of the Stack

One of the most sacred spaces for any lover of writing is the top shelf of a bookcase. Far from a place of retirement, this is that personal hall of fame you can reliably revisit any day or night.

Let me share with you a peak at my favorite shelf.  It’s filled with writing and editing guides. I’m afraid a definitive collection of fiction and poetry favorites would never fit in one place, but these are my all-star resources for blogging and writing poetry or fiction.

Other disclosures: this is not quite literally my top shelf (it’s kept instead at eye level for an easier reach), and I return to some of the these selections much more than the others.

What are you seeing up there? Here is the current collection:


Writing Fiction and Poetry

  • The Art and Craft of Novel Writing (Hall)
  • The Glimmer Train Guide to Writing Fiction (vols. 1 and 2)
  • If You Want to Write (Ueland)
  • Keys for Writers (Raimes)
  • Lessons From a Lifetime of Writing (Morrell)
  • The New Book of Forms (Turco)
  • No Plot? No Problem! (Baty)
  • On Writing (King)
  • Plot and Structure (Write Great Fiction / Bell)
  • The Science Fiction Poetry Handbook (Elgin)
  • Wonderbook (Vandermeer)
  • The Writer’s Guide to Character Traits (Edelstein)
  • Writing Down the Bones (Goldberg)
  • Writing With Style: Conversations on the Art of Writing (Trimble)
  • Character Naming Sourcebook (The Writer’s Digest / Kenyon)
  • Zen in the Art of Writing (Bradbury)

Editing and Style Guides

  • The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law (2000)
  • The Chicago Manual of Style (15th ed.)
  • The Copyeditor’s Handbook (Einsohn)
  • The Copywriter’s Handbook (Bly)
  • Eats, Shoots & Leaves (Truss)
  • The Gregg Reference Manual (Sabin)
  • Letting Go of the Words (Redish)
  • A Manual of Style (Portland House)
  • Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed.)
  • Proofreading Plain & Simple (May)
  • Writer’s Market (2012 Deluxe ed.)


I would like to expand this list with brief reviews at some point.

So, writers, which of the writing and editing books on this list have you enjoyed? What do you keep on your top shelf?

10 thoughts on “Writing Guides For Your Top Shelf

  1. You have such a varied book shelf! Very impressive. I would never show my packed, messy and overstuffed shelves-I really need to organize them and get more storage for all my books 🙂


  2. I just have to ask: what is the theme of the Glimmer Train Guide to Writing Fiction? I’ve never heard of it, just the journal. Did they actually publish a book about getting into Glimmer Train (one of those things so many writers try and try to do) or is it more general?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wouldn’t that be something? No, it’s a series of quotes from their interviews with short story writers arranged around basic themes: plot, characters, endings, etc. Definitely not a direct “How To,” but the different perspectives can be inspiring.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well that sounds good though I don’t think I’ll have time for it this Christmas … I just bought Donald Maas’ Writing the Breakout Novel in which he says that developing your writing career may take years and years. That’s reassuring. Meanwhile, I ordered Lajos Egri’s Art of Dramatic Writing.


    1. We’re all pretty busy this time of year (pardon the delay replying), for sure. Haven’t read those titles. Thanks for putting them on my radar. Do let me know if the latter is useful. ☺️ It’s much the same for poetry: you sure don’t write it for overnight success these days!


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