Wednesday, 28 September 2011


If I can work out how to do it I'll make this a sticky page at the top of my blog.

There are dozens of 'how to write' books out there - here are a few I recommend for writers of women's magazine fiction. I own and have read most of these.

How to Write and Sell Short Stories by Della Galton
Does exactly what it says on the tin. If you're aiming at the womags then this is definitely the first book you should buy. Easy to read, no nonsense style, lots of quotes by women's magazine writers - read the book to join the club!

Wannabe a Writer? by Jane Wenham-Jones
Well, do you? Jane will tell you how to become one, and she'll make you laugh as she does so. A really great read.

Wannabe a Writer we've heard of? by Jane Wenham-Jones
The sequel. These days, getting published is not enough. Then you've got to get out there and market yourself. Jane tells you how, in her inimitable style.

Write On! The Writer's Help Book by Adrian Magson
Presented as a series of articles on all aspects of writing, from finding an idea to finding a market, this book is sure to inspire you. If you're a beginner writer this one's a must. If you're a jaded old hack, this book will revitalise you.

Write to be Published by Nicola Morgan
This one's more for novelists than short story writers, but if you want to know how best to approach agents and publishers then this one's for you. The first half of the book covers making your book the very best it can be; the second half covers sending your book out there into the big wide world.

Writing from Life by Lynne Hackles
Write what you know, they say. Well the thing you know best is your own life - Lynne tells you how to turn your own experiences into profitable prose, both fiction and non-fiction. This book is packed with writing exercises guaranteed to get you going.

Love Writing by Sue Moorcroft
A complete guide to writing romantic or erotic fiction, from chick-lit novels to womag stories via pocket novels and serials. Sue has published hundreds of stories and several novels, as well as being a writing tutor, so she knows what she's talking about.

A 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance by Kate Walker
Kate writes several romantic novels every year for Mills and Boon, so she's got the art down to a fine tee. Or a fine 12 points. She makes it all sound so easy. Follow her advice, and maybe you'll find it is!

Diamonds and Pearls, edited by Elaine Everest
And finally, study the market, say all the writing tutors. If you're targetting women's magazine fiction, what better way than to read a collection of stories by the best women's mag writers around? Proceeds from sales of this book go to a breast cancer charity.

Gosh, don't they all look pretty? And have you any idea how long it has taken me to put this post together?!?!


JO said...

It was well worth the hours you spent on it! Thanks. I've got 2 of them (Della Galton and Nicola Morgan); will investigate the others.

Geraldine Ryan said...

This is a very pretty and useful page, Womag! Thanks for the compilation and your time.

Anonymous said...

I've got the wannabe books, Della's, Nicola's and Diamonds and Pearls and yes, i think i've learnt an awful lot from them. And Jane's is very, very funny.

Must take a look at the others. Thanks.


Anonymous said...

Ooh typo, i havent got Jane's 2nd book- haven't reached those dizzy heights yet:)

Gail Crane said...

Thanks for this post and well done for figuring out how to do it!

I already have Della's, Jane's Wannabe a Writer, Nicola Morgan's and Diamonds & Pearls, all of which are well worth a read.

I'm a sucker for books on writing so no doubt I shall be buying the others on your list soon.

beverley said...

Thank you for this list of recommendations - really valuable to me.
Much appreciation for the time and effort producing the thread.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

I have a few of those, but thanks for the reminder about the others!

Anonymous said...

These books are just displacement activity from the actual writing process itself.

womagwriter said...

Yes, Anonymous, if all you ever do is read the how-to books. But if you read them, try out the exercises contained within them, then practise what you've learnt when you get back to your writing, then reading them is not just a displacement activity but will further your writing career. Try it and see.

Alexander said...

Interesting post!! I really like this site, and hope you will write more, thanks for your information.

Debs Carr said...

I've got quite a few of these. My problem is retaining all the information I glean from them. I seem to forget things so quickly.

Anonymous said...

Reading is the whole key to writing - reading widely, especially in areas that you yourself are interested in developing. How-to books are a second, welcome income stream for the writers concerned (and good luck to them), but writing isn't something to be learnt, like spot-welding - you either have a feeling for words or you don't. There's no mystery to it and no exercises that are going to change that fact. Read great books, absorb - then have a go yourself. That's it.

womagwriter said...

Anon - I agree that all writers must read widely and deeply, always. I also agree that some people have an innate ability to put words together in a pleasing format whereas others don't. However, I also believe that everyone can improve their skills and move up a level or two by being taught and by practising. Writing exercises can certainly improve your writing, as well as providing inspiration for your next story. I go to a writing class every week where we sometimes do exercises and as a result my own writing has improved enormously. Not everyone can get to writing classes, which is where exercises in the how-to books can help.

Anonymous said...

Appreciate your comments, womagwriter, but we'll have to agree to disagree on this one!