Comicon Reading List for Writers

 Comicon reading list for writers

Hi, everyone! I spent this last weekend at Phoenix Comicon. It was my first ever Comicon, but it definitely won’t be my last!

There were tons of programs for aspiring writers, ranging from panels titled “Tension on Every Page” and “Hybrid Authors” to workshops about writing realistic dialogue. Many of the authors present mentioned their favorite writing books, so I thought I’d make a list for you guys!

These recommendations come from: Tom Laveen, Mel Odom, Alex Gordon, Austin Aslan, Joseph Nassise, Stephen Blackmoore, Beth Cato, Brian McClellan, Greg Van Eekhout, Aprilynne Pike, Yvonne Navarro, Jonathan Maberry, Saundra Mitchell, Andrea Phillips, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Wesley Chu, Travis Hanson, and Amy K. Nichols. Please check them out, or check out my Phoenix Comicon 2015 Books and Author’s Reading List (this list also includes the books listed below).

Comicon Reading List for Writers (Nonfiction Books)


“Techniques of the Selling Writer” by Dwight V. Swain




Techniques of the Selling Writer was first published in 1981, and over 30 years later, it’s still a staple on the discerning writer’s bookshelf. This book is the source for the “Scene and Sequel” method of writing compelling scenes. The author’s intent for this book was to give aspiring writers the tools to sell fiction, not just discuss the craft. This book was recommended by more than one published author on the Tension panel I attended, so it seems like the book succeeded!

“Plot and Structure” by James Scott Bell

Mel Odom, author of over 140 books, mentioned this book twice, in two separate panels, so it must be good. Odom uses this book to teach structure to his students every year. He says it’s the best source for learning how good stories are actually structured.

“Take off Your Pants” by Libby Hawker

Nothing like a writing book that comes on strong, is there? Take off Your Pants, by Libbie Hawker, is designed to teach you plot, structure, and other tools of one of the few trades where pants are optional.

“The Kickass Writer” by Chuck Wendig

Anyone familiar with Wendig’s I-don’t-give-a-sh**, tell-it-like-it-is style of writing knows that they’re in for an entertaining and informative read. This book is divided into Buzzfeed-style lists (25 Things You Should Know About Being A Writer, 25 Ways to Be a Better Writer… you get the idea.) I personally love Wendig’s brash and funny voice.

“How to Write Awesome Dialogue” by Tom Laveen

I attended two of the workshops Laveen taught at the Con, one about description and the other about dialogue. While the description one was good, Laveen’s acting and directing experience really showed through when he spoke about dialogue. By the end, I was convinced that I had to purchase this book, and spent at least an hour trudging through the seemingly endless vendor show room, trying to find his booth with no luck. Oh, well – that’s what Amazon’s for, right?


Comicon Reading List for Writers (Fiction Books)

“What Waits in the Woods” by Kieran Scott

This book is another recommendation by Mel Odom, who, in a discussion about whether it’s better to have character- or plot-driven stories, cited it as an example of how a book can be populated by complete cardboard-cutout characters, but still be a page-turner.

“The Island’s at the End of the World” by Austin Aslan

In contrast to the above book, this one was brought up because it’s a good example of a book that is compelling because of the relationships between the characters. It was described as having a ‘good balance between plot, character, and setting.’

“I am Not a Serial Killer” by Dan Well’s

Dan Wells’ I am Not a Serial Killer was recommended because the protagonist is a sociopath, even though sociopaths are usually cast as the villain, rather than the hero. If you’d like to learn more about the fine line that separates protagonists from villains, this is an informative read.


In his Description workshop, Tom Laveen Recommended Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson as an example of a book that manages to be emotionally graphic in its descriptions rather than physically or visually graphic. (Trigger warning: this book deals with rape.)


Well, there you have it! Don’t forget to check out the rest of the Phoenix Comicon 2015 Books and Author’s Reading List, which includes not only the writing books listed here, but the rest of the books I’m planning to read from the Con.
*** fyi – I’ve decided to try something a little new and link all my book recommendations and reviews through the Amazon Associates program. If you click these links, I may get a small commission (even if you don’t buy the book.) This really helps me and the blog out. All of these books were chosen under my discretion – I would have recommended them either way!

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H. Duke
H. Duke writes fantasy, horror, and more. Her works include the weird west / urban fantasy serial mashup, Jeremiah Jones Cowboy Sorcerer and the Christmas horror collection, Things on the Shelf: Three Tales of Christmas Terror, as well as the forthcoming Pagewalker series. She wrote the first season of Jeremiah Jones Cowboy Sorcerer while living in Arizona with her husband, Giru, and a shiny black dog named Jupiter. To see what she's up to now, visit her website.

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