Best Books on Writing Style That Will Inspire Any Writer

November 20, 2022

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Writing is an art form. It may seem obvious, but some view writing from a purely technical perspective. To them, writing is no more than simply conveying information in printed form. 

However, all writing, save for purely technical writing that one would find in a set of instructions, is information filtered through the mind of the individual doing the writing. It is highly specific to their voice.

Everyone who chooses to put paper to pen or fingers to keyboards writes in their own way, their own style. If you want to be a writer, whether it’s a research paper for academic writing, creating a short story, writing an informative essay, or improving your creative writing, one of the most important things you must do is find your style.

What is style?

Style, as a concept, is seemingly simple and yet complex. That may seem contradictory to some, but one must understand that style is multifaceted. The easiest definition for style would be to say that style is one’s individual way of doing something, in this case, writing. 

To put style in a different set of terms, in this case cooking, a chef’s style would be the kind of flavor profiles that they favor. This is due to the different spices and cooking methods they employ working together to form the eating experience.

A writer’s style is what makes their voice unique. It is their choice in syntax, preferences in settings, phrasing. Writing style is the thing that sets writers apart from one another and makes them unique. 

If you were to give Stephen King a writing prompt, he would produce a different overall work than if you gave that same prompt to James Patterson. That is where writing style is most apparent. 

How can I improve my writing style?

One’s writing style is a unique thing. Nobody in the world can write in the same manner as you. While one’s style is a thing that initially forms naturally, it can be cultivated and developed. 

Here are a few tips that can help you develop your writing style.

  • Write clear, concise, and simple sentences.
  • Don’t be repetitive or redundant.
  • Avoid unnecessary fluff.
  • Use active voice instead of passive voice.
  • Improve your vocabulary.
  • Develop creative writing skills.
  • Incorporate stronger adjectives.
  • Find a writing mentor and get feedback.
  • Proofread and revise.
  • Read and resemble your favorite authors.

Along with these tips to practice improving your writing skill, learning about writing style from some of the best writers and authors is another great method to further your craft.

To do that, here are some books that will help you find your writing style and develop it.

Best books on writing style

  1. Find Your Voice by Angie Thomas
Find Your Voice by Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas is a celebrated, bestselling author of books such as The Hate U Give. This book is less of an instructional book and more of a guided journal designed to engage your thoughts. This book features inspirational quotes, illustrations, step-by-step instructions, and many writing prompts.

It also features blank pages to reflect on what you have read and write down your thoughts. In doing this, you will be able to find your voice as the title says. When you find your voice, you find your style.


  1. How to Write Like Tolstoy by Richard Cohen
How to Write Like Tolstoy by Richard Cohen

To understand how you want to write, you must understand how others write. How to Write Like Tolstoy: A Journey into the Minds of Our Greatest Writers helps you understand influential writers such as Tolstoy, Stephen King, and even William Shakespeare.

This book talks at length about the lives of some of history's most illustrious writers and focuses on the correlation between what their lives were like and how they wrote. This will help you to look at your own life experiences and perhaps even help you to discover how those experiences have impacted your voice as a writer.


  1. Sin and Syntax by Constance Hale
How to Craft Wicked Good Prose by Constance Hale

If one was to follow the advice of writing books from more than half a century ago, as many writers do, it would not take long to realize that some of the writing that comes from that advice is both sound and, sadly, stale. Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wicked Good Prose is a book that wants you to remember to have some fun with how you write.

This book reminds you that the rules of written language do not have to be constrictive. The rules can be a veritable playground for the writer who knows what they are doing. The reader is taught to use interjections, onomatopoeia, metaphors, and alliteration.

You will learn which words are more exciting to the reader and which words you should avoid like the plague. If you want an exciting style, you need to pick up this book.


  1. Take Off Your Pants by Libbie Hawker
Take Off Your Pants by Libbie Hawker

What a title! However, it is not as provocative of a book as its title sounds. This book is there to teach you the benefit of outlining your book beforehand rather than simply flying by the seat of your pants and churning out pages that potentially go nowhere.

You may wonder what outlining and story structure has to do with your writing style. By creating a structure to hang your writing on gives you the ability to have more control over the work. If you have more control of the structure, then you have more control of the tone, the pacing, and yes, the style of your writing.


  1. The Kite and the String by Alice Mattison
he Kite and the String: How to Write With Spontaneity and Control by Alice Mattison

There is a connection between your writing, allowing for spontaneity and happy accidents, and maintaining control over your work. The Kite and the String: How to Write With Spontaneity and Control—and Live to Tell the Tale by Alice Mattison is about finding that connection and having balance in your writing.

This book is about allowing your ideas to flourish and embracing the spontaneity and serendipity of the creative writing process. It is also about knowing how to properly maintain control of those ideas. 

In a roundabout way, the book advocates treating your first draft as your outline rather than sitting down trying to put together story beats before even starting to write. 

Walking the line between spontaneity of story and maintaining control of that story is at the very essence of creative writing style.


  1. Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson
Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson

Having mastery over language is one of the most important things one needs to have to develop style, much in the same way that one must know how to ride a bike before one can start doing tricks on a bike. 

That being said, one of the most hilariously helpful books on this list is written about linguistics by someone who is not a linguist.

Bryson is in fact a writer and has spent years doing just that for various publications across the globe, but his book on the idiosyncrasies of the English language is by far one of his best works. 

With the kind of wit that keeps you rolling and a vast listing of samples for each point, he has pulled together a wonderful anthology of how the English language came to be and why the history of it is so backwards, sideways, and inside out.

  1. Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace by Joseph M. Williams & Joseph Bizup
Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace by Joseph M. Williams & Joseph Bizup

One of this book's core tenets is that while the author chooses the words that go into a book, the audience ultimately decides whether or not it was said well. This book functions as both a book and a teaching program.

This book focuses primarily on one type of writing style: the concise and informative style. It will teach you how to write succinctly, easily, and quickly convey information to the reader. 

This is the perfect book for aspiring writers who have a hard time with their work being rough around the edges. Style will help you clean up your writing without sacrificing the parts of your writing that give it personality.

  1. The Elephants of Style by Bill Walsh
The Elephants of Style by Bill Walsh

Most of the books on this list are about how you can set your style free and develop it. Bill Walsh’s book The Elephants of Style: A Trunkload of Tips on the Big Issues and Gray Areas of Contemporary American English is here to teach you how to reign your style back in when it starts to run amok.

Walsh is known for having a curmudgeonly writing style, and it is used in full effect to get the writer to tame some of the excesses that many modern writers give in to. 

By curbing bad behaviors and emphasizing good behaviors, Walsh teaches writers how to use their style responsibly. The book also advocates for developing a good relationship with editors and avoiding language misuse.


  1. Pity the Reader by Kurt Vonnegut & Suzanne McConnell
Pity the Reader: On Writing With Style by Kurt Vonnegut & Suzanne McConnell

Kurt Vonnegut is one of the most successful writers of all time. When one of the greatest writers of all time has a compendium created with virtually all of their thoughts on the art of writing, then the budding writer should pick that book up.

Pity the Reader: On Writing with Style is Vonnegut’s thoughts on creating art with the written word as assembled by Suzanne McConnell. Here you will see how Vonnegut’s style and sensibilities were formed and how, through his journey as a writer, you can find the things in your own life that form you as a writer.

If we are to truly think of writing as an art form, then in creating that art one’s own sense of style cannot help but come through. If any theme from this book on Vonnegut shines through, that sentiment would probably be it.


  1. Writing With Style by John R. Trimble
Writing With Style: Conversations on the Art of Writing by John R. Trimble

This book is a relatively short read, but it packs a lot of information into its pages. Trimble examines different styles of writing and then gives examples of them. Trimble shows the correlation between style and self-expression and helps the budding writer learn how to bring that style out into their work.

One of the book's most important features is that it helps to teach writers how to think of their audience when creating their work, and not merely in the sense of whether the reader will like it. In doing this, they can learn how to best express their style to their readers. 

Applying what you’ve learned from books on writing style

These books all do their part to show you the different paths that a writer can walk to develop their style. The one thing that the books do not do, however, is show you what your own path as a writer looks like. You need to set out on your own path to develop your style. The only way to do that is to start writing.

Try the different tips that these books offer as you write. Find not only what is most comfortable for you, but what is most stimulating for you as well. Discover ways of writing that throw a spark in your imagination and get you excited to write. By doing that, you will know that you are on the right path for your writing journey.


Conclusion on writing style books

When you find your style as a writer, it is almost as though you are discovering yourself for the first time. 

For many writers, it is as simple as sitting down and letting the words practically fly onto the page. For others, writing is a more ponderous affair that takes time. 

Remember to do what feels most correct to you. To do otherwise would be a betrayal of your writing style.

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