Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Take 5: Books on Creative Writing

A couple of months ago The Teen announced that she wanted to start her own creative writing group for her and her friends. She gave it a name- the coolest name ever! – and we talked about what she wanted and then I went online and I asked people on Twitter, including some of the authors I follow, for their tips and suggestions. They offered a lot of suggestions and some specific book recommendations, which we have added to our home library to help The Teen as she explores the art and craft of writing.

Many authors swear by On Writing by Stephen King, which seems to be the go to book on writing. And he does kind of have the career to back him up, so that’s now a part of her collection. Ironically, it is also the book she is required to read over the summer for her summer reading assignment, which worked out well for us.

Rip the Page was recommended by several Twitter followers and I like that it has prompts and experiments and places wrote in the book to write.

Spilling Ink was also highly recommended and we haven’t dived into it that much yet, but it got so many recommendations that I purchased it as well.

I’m a huge fan of Ally Carter’s books and we’ve seen her on several YA panels, so we purchased Dear Ally as well. As a bonus, the Dear Ally book is an answer to the questions that Ally Carter gets from teens themselves about the art and business of writing. It’s her attempt to answer and engage directly with teens, which I appreciate.

We already owned the Basher book on Creative Writing because we collect the Basher Books. They are mini encyclopedias on specific topics so it has less on the tips and tricks and writing prompts and more of the definitions and story structure components. It’s informative and fun, but less useful then some of the other titles.

Poemcrazy is a book I have owned and used for years in teen programming. It is hands down one of my favorite books on writing poetry and it includes a lot of fun, creative activities. The activities are fun, engaging and spark a lot of creative thinking and writing. If you are going to work with teens on anything poetry related, I highly recommend that you look at this book.

A lot of libraries host teen creative writing workshops of some kind or another, which I told The Teen we could look for. However, she wanted to start her own group without adult influence or control. She wants it to be entirely teen led and adult free. However, she’s glad to have the books and is diving right in. Her vision is that they will just write, get together and share what they write, and repeat.

Do you have any tips, tricks or titles to recommend? Leave them in the comments.


  1. I am a great fan of Stephen King’s books as well. Other books and authors you’ve mentioned seem interesting. I will check them out one of these days!

  2. Rase McCray says:

    Easily my favorite book on creative writing is The Dramatic Writer’s Companion by Will Dunne. It’s directed at playwrights, but the text is equally useful for novelists and screenwriters (and short story writers, though it’s likely more than you need there).

    Essentially, the book is a giant collection of directed prompts/questions with a paragraph or two of craft-focused introductions. But unlike most prompt books, the goal is to increase the *depth* of your imaginary adventure as it relates to a single text, not inspire you to start something new. Though that means it’s not as good for instigating the typical 15-minute group writing sessions, I feel it fills a huge gap that’s not covered well in practically any other book.

    The exercises are divided into three sections, each with three subsections:
    I. Developing Your Character
    I.i. Fleshing out the bones
    I.ii. Getting to know the character better
    I.iii. Understanding who the character really is.

    II. Causing a Scene
    II.i. Making things happen
    II.ii. Refining the action
    II.iii. Refining the dialogue

    III. Building Your Story
    III.i. Triggering the chain of events
    III.ii. Developing the throughline
    III.iii. Seeing the big picture

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