So you're trying to be the next Mark Twain or Margaret Atwood. Except a cooler, digital marketing inclined version that writes killer content for the web. Where do you start? Two of the best ways to learn are by example and research. If you're getting a brain cramp when it comes to letting the ink flow (or keys type), here are some books you might want to flip through for inspiration or to help refine your writing.
1. The Elements Of Style
By William Strunk Jr. & E.B. White.
These days this book is often touted as being old and out of date (it was originally published in the early 18th century).
It might sound like a total snooze fest, but this book gives an extensive and still relevant history in to the English language.
Don't believe me? Time magazine included it in their 2011 rundown of all-time 100 non-fiction books.
2. Spunk And Bite
By Arthur Plotnik.
Consider this little ditty the big older brother of Strunk and White's (get it?) Elements of Style.
Plotnik's is a bit of a bully when it comes to commenting on Strunk and White's book hindering a writer's creativity, which he makes up for in his take on writing.
Although Plotnik's advice must be taken with a grain of salt, if you're looking for a more current, cool writing guide, check it out.
3. Caps And Spelling & Canadian Press Stylebook
While studying journalism in college, I took these two books everywhere.
Although you may not have to read them cover to cover, the index at the back of the book lets you easily locate an answer to almost any style question.
From writing numbers to proper names and cities, these two books can help you become more confident in delivering correct and concise content.
4. Roald Dahl's Books
By Roald Dahl.
Dahl's book and stories may not be about writing specifically, but this is where the inspiration comes in.
I am undoubtedly biased as Dahl is my favourite author, but nobody can deny his ability to captivate an audience. Dahl is wildly creative as shown through his children's books and short stories, but also has an incredible knack for writing non-fiction (check out Going Solo - literally the best book ever written).
If you're tight on time, breeze through one of his short stories like Lamb to the Slaughter to find some inspiration.
5. The Mother Tongue: The Story Of The English Language
By Bill Bryson.
History with a side of humor. Bill Bryson is probably more commonly known for his comical travel writing.
In this book, he combines his wit with an exploration of the English language. All topics he covers may not be totally relevant to your writing career (i.e. swearing) but his humor offers another perspective on the language and our ability to use it.
6. Titus Andronicus
Another place to go for inspiration, one of the greatest writers of our time.
Any Shakespeare play is suitable, Titus Andronicus just happens to be one of my favourites.
If you're thinking I'm crazy to suggest reading some outdated English gibberish, look at it this way: what you're trying to accomplish is way less complicated.
7. On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft
By Stephen King.
This book is a memoir of Stephen King's path to becoming a writer.
Not only is it informative about his life, but it also sheds some light on what it can take to become an author.
Since you're learning about how King became a successful writer through his award-winning writing, you might not even notice you're learning about writing yourself at all.
8. Eats, Shoots And Leaves
By Lynne Truss.
The title of this book may not lend itself to teaching one about grammar, but once you hear the joke it's based on, things will start to click.
All jokes aside, this book is about the serious need for the proper use of punctuation in writing.
Mixing humor and learning, this is another go-to book for punctuation questions.