Here’s a quick list of some of the more useful how-to-write books on my shelf. One of the first things I learned about writing fiction (back in the late ’70s) was that I didn’t need to reinvent the wheel. Plenty of writers have written helpful books! All of the out-of-print books in the list seem to be available used from Amazon.
Scott Meredith, Writing to Sell (out of print). Meredith is a terrible Philistine. He doesn’t give a crap about art. But if you want to sell books, this is a great resource.
Jean Z. Owen, Professional Fiction Writing (out of print). A fine all-around introduction to basic techniques.
Hallie & Whit Burnett, Fiction Writer’s Handbook.
Noah Lukeman, The First Five Pages.
Orson Scott Card, Characters & Viewpoint.
Ansen Dibell, Plot.
John Gardner, The Art of Fiction.
William Cane, Write like the Masters (seems now to be titled Fiction Writing Master Class, but if the table of contents is to be believed, it’s the same book).
Ronald B. Tobias, Theme & Strategy.
Renni Browne & Dave King, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers.
Rust Hills, Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular.
And of course, less about technique than about whatever he feels like saying about writing, Telling Lies for Fun & Profit by Lawrence Block.