When writing gets hard, there’s nothing like looking to the experts in order to really put your flaws and mistakes out in the open. That’s why, for my #AtoZChallenge, H is for Handbooks.
The following is a selection of books and instructional guides I’ve acquired, personally and through college courses, that are all about writing. I would also like to mention The Elements of Style by Strunk & White, which must be at my parents’ house because I cannot find my copy in my apartment, The Chicago Manual of Style and The Associated Press Handbook (you can determine which is for you), as well as Stephen King’s On Writing which contains exceptional advice. If you are looking for some guidance, grammar help, or tips and tricks for making your writing technically stronger, you could give one of these a try:
Now in its 8th edition, this book is great for those of you with a moderate to strong grasp on grammar. It is also a great resource for those of you with a weaker grasp on grammar rules and patterns; when I took the course that required this book, I had only basic knowledge of grammar and sentence structure (my high school grammar lessons did not adequately prepare me for it). And although it was a little rough, I did come out of the course with a much better understanding of grammar. This book definitely requires note taking, but if you don’t already take notes alongside any book you read (handbook or not) then this is a great time to start.
This book is filled with great writing exercises and ways for improving reading skills (critical, analytical, constructive, etc.). It is a little word-heavy, which, I will admit, can be monotonous, but the lessons inside are worth reading and practicing.
Really any “Cambridge Companion” is a must-have, but these are important to me because they imply that I have a creative writing bone in my body and, more seriously, understanding narrative is important for every writer and reader, whether that writing and reading is social, personal, or professional.
This was a gift from a co-worker, and while it is not a formal handbook, it still contains many great writing guides, historical facts, math tips, and more information that is fun and helpful.
Share your favorite or most-referred-to handbook or writing guide in the comments below, and happy writing!