Writing can be difficult to tackle. That’s why it’s important to learn from the success of those who came before you and use their examples to form your own unique way of storytelling. I’ve put together a good list to start with for both varieties in genre and writing styles. These books are great tools to learn from. Great writers read. Why? Because you learn to do by first seeing how it’s successfully done.
Islands in the Stream– Hemingway writes this book about a guy who’s got kids and the things they go through. Then like any Hemingway story, bad things happen. Then there’s a sad ending. And I love it every time. Why? Because Hemingway makes me care about the characters. Reading Hemingway is like studying how to develop characters who change over time.
Killer Angels – This a historical novel by Michael Shaara is a great showing of detail and historical fiction. It also shows how to narrate a battle with dozens of moving parts. The book can teach you how to use little moments and small details to make your world feel real. Good fiction often times imitates actual history. I actually bought this book by accident and ended up loving it. (I got it off audible, to begin with. Don’t drink and shop online. You might buy a good book by accident).
The Haunting of Hill House– Written by Shirley Jackson this book is a great look at tension building in a story. This is a story that makes the readers ask questions and question their assumptions. It’s engaging. If you can get your readers guessing what’s going to happen while maintaining a cohesive storyline you’re going to have a good book that people like to read and talk about. This book is widely regarded as a good read. I recommend it to people even when they don’t like horror.
The Hellbound Heart – This is a great book to learn about gratuitous content. Clive Barker covers topics of such disgust that some of the more graphic scenes in the book are absent in the movie created from it, Hellraiser. He does it tactfully so that the goreyness of the scenes does not turn readers away. The graphic nature is necessary. This is also a great example of how to change characters in a story without breaking the feel of the story. The book changes between focusing on Frank, Julia, and Christie. Each change feels natural and necessary. If you read more of my blog you’ll see I’m a big fan of this book and the way the monsters are portrayed in it. Like all of Clive Barkers works the humans are more dangerous and more fearsome than the monsters. However groteske the monsters may be.
A Clockwork Orange – This book teaches you about writing in the first person over a period of years. The story is a coming of age tale that is iconic for it’s violent and dystopian storyline. It delves deep into the psyche of the main character who often times makes up words. After reading it I felt more comfortable making up words. This book is also one that reminds me that there is no limit to what you can put into a story. This book had rape, murder, theft and more. It all seems like a normal day to day thing because of the way the story is told. That’s what makes this book special.
The Night Angel Trilogy– I really liked the first book in this series. It’s hard for me to get into a series because I usually think that one book should wrap up everything. But this is a great example of fantasy where the writer makes you feel like the world is real while creating a rich vibrant world. It’s got a far fetched storyline about a magical sword and an assassin that takes on an apprentice. But it’s a lot more than just a book about assassins. You can learn about building rich worlds and telling long stories that pull from the happenings of the first book to the end of the third book.
As a reader, my original predisposition was to read fantasy. When I expanded my radius of books I found a love for horror. Not all horror. I’m finding that Horror is very segmented into little mini genres much like Fantasy. Reading things you don’t like can help you to grow both in experience and in the amount of writing techniques that you subconsciously pick up from other authors.