Posted by: Katie B | April 26, 2013

Great Books on Creative Writing (a.k.a. the art of craft)

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Charleston in Spring

In July, I’ll travel up to Vermont (car loaded with a glut of shoes and clothes and books and more shoes – the majority of which I will never use) to begin my first semester in the Vermont College of Fine Art’s MFA program.  My concentration – Writing for Children and Young Adult – of course!  With a slight sense of panic, I’ve been reading the recommended “preparatory” texts, so that when I arrive, I’ll be able to jump right back into the world of literati.  (No matter that it has been twenty years since I’ve written a critical paper, with the exception of the critical work I scrapped together as part of my application.  No worry about that at all.)

The prescribed list is comprised of VCFA’s esteemed faculty’s suggested reading.  In truth, there must have been dozens of books on the list.  With only two months before I leave, I decided to narrow the list down to a good cross-section of books on the craft of writing from several different perspectives.  In case you are looking for some new, inspiring reads on how to improve your writing and your creative spirit overall, or if you simply want to join me in my return to the world of academic reading, I’m sharing my abbreviated list with you.  As I make my way through the books, I will, as usual, be offering up my opinions on the content covered in each volume. If you read them, feel free to share your opinions as well!

Happy Studying!

The Books:

What’s Your Story: A Young Person’s Guide to Writing Fiction by Marion Dane Bauer

The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers by John Gardner

Writing Books for Young People by James Cross Giblin

Steering the Craft by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Art of Fiction by David Lodge

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life by Twyla Tharp


  1. Interesting list. I’d also recommend Writer’s Space. It’s unique in that it’s not written by an author, but a psychiatrist. It’s more about setting up your mind and an environment that conducive to writing. I’ve been surprised how personal it feels when I’m reading it.

  2. I’m so happy for you, Katie! I was about your age when I decided to go back to work after being a full-time mom, and your mother was responsible for identifying BOTH my first job (Somerville Housing and Urban Development Director) and second job (AT&T) once I made that decision. Is it any wonder I will love her forever? Otherwise I would surely have spent years making burgers at McD’s. Contacts – they’re what makes the world go round; but the best is when they become lifelong friends! I hope you find many kindred spirits in this program that will be a part of your life forever.

    Linda R.

  3. Good luck on this new venture, Katie. I think you will enjoy this experience..

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