The Year’s 5 Best Books for Fiction Writers (2020)

Want to be a better writer? Then check out this list of novel and short story craft titles published over the last year.

1. 25 Great Sentences and How They Got That Way by Geraldine Woods

Read this August release from creative writing instructor Geraldine Woods and you’ll never write sentences the same way again. “We all know the basic structure of a sentence,” she notes, “a subject/verb pair expressing a complete thought and ending with proper punctuation. But that classroom definition doesn’t begin to describe the ways in which these elements can combine to resonate with us as we read, to make us stop and think, laugh or cry.”

2. Writing Through the Classics: Pride and Prejudice edited by Lizzy Sisk

Writers are told to read like writers, but what does that even mean? In this edition of Pride and Prejudice, editor Lizzy Sisk shows us, adding insightful footnotes to Jane Austen’s original text that explain the creative writing devices Austen used. Exercises and prompts also guide readers through how to use these same techniques in their own fiction.

Pride and Prejudice is first in Sisk’s Writing Through the Classics series.

3. The Occupation Thesaurus by Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman

In case you missed it during all the coronavirus and election chaos, Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman have done it again, releasing the seventh title in their Writers Helping Writers series. Their latest thesaurus lists out specific vocabulary surrounding jobs frequently encountered in fiction (including novelist, of course). Use the words to flesh out character or maybe spark ideas for new ones.

4. The Science of Writing Characters by Kira-Anne Pelican

The better you understand people, the better written your characters will be. For screenwriter Kira-Anne Pelican, that means analyzing the fictional people we create by Big Five personality traits: agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, openness, and stress tolerance level. By better understanding how these traits shape action, relationship, and dialogue, Pelican promises to make your characters come alive.

5. The Art of World Building Workbook: Sci-Fi Edition by Randy Ellefson

Maybe it’s the pandemic but, as a collective, we’re writing more scifi than ever. By June 2, 2020, the number of writers submitting short stories to top magazine Clarkesworld for the first time had doubled. If you are new to the genre, check out Randy Ellefson’s workbook of prompts to help you create settings with far-out solar systems, planets, continents, sovereign nations, alternative timelines, military organizations, advanced technologies, and spacecraft.

2X entrepreneur; reporter & fiction writer; Kentuckian in NYC; advocate for straight-talk & continued improvement

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