Two Great Books For Writers

Now that the rainy season is here in British Columbia, my afternoons of yard work are pretty much over, so I’ve rejigged my daily schedule to reserve more time for reading and online learning in the afternoons. Maybe I’ll do more editing as well. Heaven knows there are still plenty of changes to make in my urban fantasy.

Those who follow my blog know that I’ve reading a fair bit on self-publishing and marketing over the past month. I’m also investing my time on great books for writers. One of them is Writing Monsters by Philip Athans, which is a great guide for anyone who’s writing horror, science fiction, or fantasy. What I really like about this book is the way he makes the reader think about why a monster should appear in one’s story. What is its purpose? How and when it should appear? He even provides a checklist of questions as we come up with new and innovative scary creatures. There’s plenty in the world to frighten us these days, and tapping into what scares us most is a good start to creating fictional monsters.

Stephen King’s book On Writing, was published twenty years ago and has been recommended to me numerous times, so I finally bought a copy and am just over halfway through the book now. I’m really enjoying his unique and candid approach which, as the title reflects, is more of a memoir in the first half than a how-to book. The book is filled with anecdotes from his childhood, teen years, and early married life, when he first wrote Carrie, a character he’s never really liked, by the way. Out of those experiences, are terrific writing insights and tips, which I’m jotting down.

If you’re stuck indoors and looking to improve your writing, these books might help. I’ve also started reading The Occupation Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. The introductory pages have already given me ideas for a paranormal series I’ve been mulling over for several weeks. The ideas are coming along, faster than I can write and edit them, but that’s not a terrible place to be!

Author: debrapurdykong

I'm a British Columbia author who's been writing for over 30 years. My volunteer experiences, criminology diploma, and various jobs, inspired me to write mysteries set in BC’s Lower Mainland. Employment as a campus security patrol and communications officer provide the background for my my Casey Holland transit security novels. I'm also a part-time facilitator in Creative Writing Workshops through Port Moody's Recreation program. Feel free to contact me at

12 thoughts on “Two Great Books For Writers”

  1. I’ve read most craft books, but I can’t say I’ve even heard of Writing Monsters. Am gonna check it out now. Thanks for this recommendation, because I DO write sci-fi and am looking at fantasy.

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    1. Glad you found the post helpful, Stuart. There aren’t many books on monster creation, but it’s such an important part of our work. The book’s a fast, straightforward read, and I hope you’ll find it useful. 🙂


  2. I LOVE Stephen King’s On Writing! The man is a genius and an inspiration. And all the thesauruses (thesaurai?) by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi are wonderful to have when you need that little something. I often use the Emotion Thesaurus when I’m looking for body language and the Emotional Wounds Thesaurus will have us all psychoanalyzing our past.

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  3. P.S. One of my favourite writing books is Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. Blake says there are only really 10 types of movies (or plots) one of which is “Monster in the House.” I think this would fit well with your Writing Monsters book. I’ve written vampires which are monsters, I suppose, and ravens which are vampires, also monsters I suppose, but a full-out monster, that I’ve yet to conjure. Have you been dreaming along with the book?

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