Books about writing

Books on writing and editing
(I haven’t read all of these, but the ones I recommend are noted with an asterisk. Thanks to colleagues at the Editorial Freelancers Association and the Copy Editing List for sharing their recommendations! This page, like all other pages on this blog, is in progress. Suggestions welcome!)

Fiction, mostly

Revision & Self-Editing by James Scott Bell

Revising Prose, 4th ed., by Richard Lanham, 2000*

Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain

Editor-Proof Your Writing: 21 Steps to the Clear Prose Publishers and Agents Crave by Don McNair

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King

Developmental Editing: A Handbook for Freelancers, Authors, and Publishers by Scott Norton

An Editor’s Guide to Working with Authors by Barbara Sjoholm

On Writing by Stephen King

The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker

Steering the Craft by Ursula K. Le Guin

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

Stein on Writing by Sol Stein, 1995

How to Grow a Novel by Sol Stein, 1999

Technical Writing

The Business of Editing by Richard H. Adin, 2013
Info available here:

How to Write So People Can Understand You by Robert S. Burger, 1969
(This was my dad’s, focused on report writing. The author does not mince words!)

Technical Writing, 2nd ed., by John M. Lannon, 1982
(Looks like a textbook, and looks like I picked it up at a used book store — haven’t read it.)

Articles and essays

Articles and essays about writing, plain language, academese, and the problem with [fill in the blank]. Some book reviews, too. Updated periodically.

Scott McLemee’s review of the book Learn to Write Badly by Michael Billig in Inside Higher Ed; October 9, 2013:

Wonderful conversation between author Donna Tartt and her editor, Michael Pietsch:
I love this exchange:
Tartt: There’s nothing like having a sympathetic reader who asks the right questions, who understands what you’re trying to achieve and only wants to make it better. The best fixes are seamless—solutions that are in plain sight but you haven’t seen yourself, that someone else has to point out to you.
Pietsch: The editor works in disappearing ink. If a writer takes a suggestion, it becomes part of her creation. If not, it never happened.