So I got asked today about how-to-write books — specifically, I was asked to recommend a few. Given that this seems to be a topic that comes up now and then, I am going to recommend two-and-a-half of them (one is specific for F&SF writers).
The first is On Writing by Stephen King. This is the book that I re-read every so often. King puts together an autobiography and a lecture on craft into one easy-to-read manuscript. The thing is, most writers would put together an autobiography that would read as “if you didn’t grow up like I did, you’ll never amount to much.” King doesn’t do that. Instead, he draws on elements of his upbringing that illustrate how his life shaped him as a writer, and are easily identifiable as things that could have just as easily happened to you. The result is a frank, sometimes funny, sometimes sad book on not just craft, but what it really means to be a writer.