The first book on the art & craft of writing that I ever read was Stephen King's On Writing. I know not everyone is a fan of King, but if you ask me? He's a masterful writer. He develops these alternate worlds that require you to completely suspend your own reality. It should be said that these worlds do not often translate well when spilled outside of the confines of the imagination and page; some of King's books defy description, much less adaptation to the screen. But as one of the most recognizable names in fiction, I think he's a great place to begin.
The back cover describes this book as "friendly," and I'll have to agree with that description; King's writing is engaging and filled with personal anecdotes that draw the reader into his non-fiction world as well as he draws the reader into his fictional worlds.
This is a great craft book for anyone interested in writing, but I believe it's beyond great for those new to the idea of writing. Favorite parts of this book: not one but three forewards and two appendices at the back that show King's editing process on a story that became 1408 (a successful movie adaptation starring John Cusak [rawr] & Samuel L. Jackson) and a reading list of some of King's favorite titles. Keep in mind that this is from 2000, so I'm sure there are more. On Writing released a 10th Anniversary edition in 2010, and since I have yet to read this edition, I can only assume it's updated somewhat.
And now, after discussing this book and how much it has meant to me, it appears I have a new (old) book to add to my TBR pile.