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There are an awful lot of books about writing. It can be a bit overwhelming. To get you started, here are nine books about writing to help improve your craft, whether you’re writing for children or adults, fiction or non-fiction. Click on the links to read more about each book.

The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr

From one of the great memoirists of modern times, The Art of Memoir breaks down Karr’s own writing process. One of the best books about writing memoirs.


On Writing by Stephen King

Part memoir, part writing advice, this is considered to be one of the best books on the craft of modern times. Famous for the quote: “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”


How Not to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them by Howard Mittelmark

A tongue-in-cheek guide on how to write the world’s worst novel. Only attempt if you can tolerate a heavy dose of sarcastic humour.


Writing from the Heart by Joy Cowley

One of New Zealand’s most beloved writers gives her advice on creating stories for children.


The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker

An analysis of what makes good writing. Pinker uses modern neuroscience as well as literature to form his arguments. Applies to fiction and non-fiction.


Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose

The aptly named Prose dissects famous works of fiction to demonstrate what makes a great book.


Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder

A helpful guide to hitting the ‘beats’ of storytelling. Useful to novelists as well as screenwriters.


Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss

The definitive, no-nonsense guide to grammar. Plenty of comedic relief between commas, semicolons and apostrophes.



Self-Publishing in New Zealand by H.L. Kennedy.

Admittedly, this book isn’t really about writing, but I wouldn’t be doing my job correctly if I didn’t include it. Self-Publishing in New Zealand takes you beyond the writing to the editing, marketing and production of your book.

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