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Recommended Books
  • A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation
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  • The Art of Fiction: Illustrated from Classic and Modern Texts
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  • The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers
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  • Booknotes: America's Finest Authors on Reading, Writing, and the Power of Ideas
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    Flaubert's Parrot
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    Fowler's Modern English Usage
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  • If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit
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    Keep the Aspidistra Flying (Harvest Book)
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    Henry Miller on Writing (New Directions Paperbook)
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    New Grub Street (Broadview Editions)
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    Nonconformity
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    On Becoming a Novelist
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    The Oxford Dictionary of Allusions (Oxford Paperback Reference)
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    Poetic Meter and Poetic Form
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    The Paris Review Interviews, Vols. 1-4
    by The Paris Review
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    Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them (P.S.)
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    The Rhetoric of Fiction
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    The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life
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    Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print
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    Dan Poynter's Self-Publishing Manual, 16th Edition: How to Write, Print and Sell Your Own Book (Self Publishing Manual)
    by Dan Poynter
  • Simple & Direct
    Simple & Direct
    by Jacques Barzun
  • Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences
    Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences
    by Kitty Burns Florey
  • The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative
    The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative
    by Vivian Gornick
  • The Sound on the Page: Great Writers Talk about Style and Voice in Writing
    The Sound on the Page: Great Writers Talk about Style and Voice in Writing
    by Ben Yagoda
  • Story: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of Screenwriting
    Story: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of Screenwriting
    by Robert Mckee
  • Stylish Academic Writing
    Stylish Academic Writing
    by Helen Sword
  • Successful Television Writing
    Successful Television Writing
    by Lee Goldberg, William Rabkin
  • The Summing Up
    The Summing Up
    by W. Somerset Maugham
  • 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel
    13 Ways of Looking at the Novel
    by Jane Smiley
  • Tales from the Script: 50 Hollywood Screenwriters Share Their Stories
    Tales from the Script: 50 Hollywood Screenwriters Share Their Stories
    by Peter Hanson, Paul Robert Herman
  • To Show and to Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction
    To Show and to Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction
    by Phillip Lopate
  • What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers
    What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers
    by Anne Bernays, Pamela Painter
  • Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
    Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
    by Scott Mccloud
  • The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles
    The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles
    by Steven Pressfield
  • Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do
    Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do
    Plume
  • Women Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews
    Women Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews
    Modern Library
  • The Writer Got Screwed (but didn't have to): Guide to the Legal and Business Practices of Writing for the Entertainment Industry
    The Writer Got Screwed (but didn't have to): Guide to the Legal and Business Practices of Writing for the Entertainment Industry
    by Brooke A. Wharton
  • Ambrose Bierce's Write It Right: The Celebrated Cynic's Language Peeves Deciphered, Appraised, and Annotated for 21st-Century Readers
    Ambrose Bierce's Write It Right: The Celebrated Cynic's Language Peeves Deciphered, Appraised, and Annotated for 21st-Century Readers
    by Ambrose Bierce, Jan Freeman
  • The Writer's Chapbook: A Compendium of Fact, Opinion, Wit, and Advice from the Twentieth Century's Preeminent Writers (Modern Library)
    The Writer's Chapbook: A Compendium of Fact, Opinion, Wit, and Advice from the Twentieth Century's Preeminent Writers (Modern Library)
    Modern Library
  • The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition
    The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition
    by Christopher Vogler
  • The Writer on Her Work, Volume 1
    The Writer on Her Work, Volume 1
    by Janet Sternberg
  • The Writer's Legal Companion: The Complete Handbook For The Working Writer, Third Edition
    The Writer's Legal Companion: The Complete Handbook For The Working Writer, Third Edition
    by Brad Bunnin, Peter Beren
  • A Writer's Reality
    A Writer's Reality
    by Mario Vargas Llosa
  • A Writer's Time: Making the Time to Write
    A Writer's Time: Making the Time to Write
    by Kenneth Atchity
  • Writing About Your Life: A Journey into the Past
    Writing About Your Life: A Journey into the Past
    by William Zinsser
  • Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within (Paperback)
    Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within (Paperback)
    by Natalie Goldberg (Author)
  • Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular
    Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular
    by L. Rust Hills
  • Writing for Your Life
    Writing for Your Life
    by Deena Metzger
  • The Writing Life: Writers On How They Think And Work
    The Writing Life: Writers On How They Think And Work
    by Marie Arana
  • The Writing Life
    The Writing Life
    by Annie Dillard
  • The Writing of Fiction
    The Writing of Fiction
    by Edith Wharton
  • Writing the Novel: From Plot to Print
    Writing the Novel: From Plot to Print
    by Lawrence Block
  • Writing Past Dark: Envy, Fear, Distraction and Other Dilemmas in the Writer's Life
    Writing Past Dark: Envy, Fear, Distraction and Other Dilemmas in the Writer's Life
    by Bonnie Friedman
  • You're a Genius All the Time: Belief and Technique for Modern Prose
    You're a Genius All the Time: Belief and Technique for Modern Prose
    by Regina Weinreich, Jack Kerouac
  • Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius Within You
    Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius Within You
    by Ray Bradbury
  • Endangered Species: Writers Talk About Their Craft, Their Visions, Their Lives
    Endangered Species: Writers Talk About Their Craft, Their Visions, Their Lives
    by Lawrence Grobel

QUOTE OF THE DAY

Tuesday
Jan232018

Fine Writing Helps Alleviate Suffering

Life is absurd. But there is one meaningful thing, one inarguable thing, and that is that there is suffering. Fine writing helps alleviate that suffering – and anything that puts meaning and beauty into the world in the form of story, helps people to live with more peace and purpose and balance, is deeply worthwhile.

ROBERT McKEE

Monday
Jan222018

An Infant of Monstrous Aspect

Writing…always, always only starts out as shit: an infant of monstrous aspect; bawling, ugly, terrible, and it stays terrible for a long, long time (sometimes forever). Unlike cooking, for example, where largely edible, if raw, ingredients are assembled, cut, heated, and otherwise manipulated into something both digestible and palatable, writing is closer to having to reverse-engineer a meal out of rotten food.

DAVID RAKOFF

Sunday
Jan212018

The Blank White Page

The blank white page. El Diablo Blanco. El Pollo Loco. Whatever you choose to call it, staring into the abyss in search of an idea can be terrifying. But ask yourself this; was Picasso intimidated by the blank canvas? Was Mozart intimidated by the blank sheet music? Was Edison intimidated by the blank lightbulb? If you’re still blocked up, ask yourself more questions, like; Why did I quit my job at TJ Maxx to write full-time? Can/should I eat this entire box of Apple Jacks? Is The Price is Right on at 10 or 11?

COLIN NISSAN

Saturday
Jan202018

Learn Skills Not Everybody Knows

If you’re in school, don’t waste time in English courses. Learn skills not everybody knows, like court reporting or Japanese, so you can get part-time work at a decent wage. Don’t write short stories and poems unless you have a trust fund. No matter how perfect they are, no matter what prestigious magazine publishes them, each one will be 200 pages too short to pay the rent.

NELL ZINK

Friday
Jan192018

Fiction Enables You to Write Coded Versions of Yourself

Fiction enables you to write coded versions of yourself that you know are true because you can decode them. Other people just think that's characterization. That's fine. You can - you can observe until the cows come home. But when you really have put a character together piece by piece, what makes it work is a piece of yourself. And until that happens, the character doesn't really have a being at all. So the real joining in fiction-writing is that sense of finding all the possibilities of your own character and awarding them in an organized way to the different characters of your creation.

JOHN LE CARRÉ

Thursday
Jan182018

Writing Is Physical

Writing is physical. Thoreau said that over time an old poet learns to guard his or her moods as carefully as a cat watches a mouse. Hemingway advised writers to quit work each day with a bit of juice in the tank, knowing what would be coming the next day—a line of dialogue, a scene—so the writer could then slip more easily back into the dream of the story and not have to expend extra mental and physical energy—the sparks of friction—diving back down into the dream. He didn’t use those words—he compared the process instead to turning down the flame in a pilot lamp to the cool blue glow of just-waiting—but I like to think of it as a diving-down, a submersion, a re-immersion, into the subconscious: the wellspring of discovery, at which the traditional lens-shaped structure of the short story—six to eighteen pages—excels at delivering.

RICK BASS

Wednesday
Jan172018

How to Overcome Writer's Block

Writer’s block, how to overcome it: write something substantial every morning, and while doing so forget entirely the impression you’re creating. That is, overcome ego.

PAUL FUSSELL

Tuesday
Jan162018

Collaborative Workshops and Writers’ Peer Groups Are Good Inventions

Collaborative workshops and writers’ peer groups are good inventions. They put the writer into a community of people all working at the same art, the kind of group musicians and painters and dancers have always had. A good peer group offers mutual encouragement, amicable competition, stimulating discussion, practice in criticism, and support in difficulty. If you want to and are able to join a group, do so. If you long for the stimulus of working with other writers but can’t find or attend a local group, look into the many possibilities of forming or joining one on the Internet.

URSULA K. LE GUIN

Monday
Jan152018

Pay Attention

Pay attention. It’s all about paying attention. It’s all about taking in as much of what’s out there as you can.... Attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. Stay eager.

SUSAN SONTAG

Sunday
Jan142018

A Physical Book Is Like a Shark

I do not believe that all books will or should migrate onto screens: as Douglas Adams once pointed out to me, more than 20 years before the Kindle showed up, a physical book is like a shark. Sharks are old: there were sharks in the ocean before the dinosaurs. And the reason there are still sharks around is that sharks are better at being sharks than anything else is. Physical books are tough, hard to destroy, bath-resistant, solar-operated, feel good in your hand: they are good at being books, and there will always be a place for them.

NEIL GAIMAN

Saturday
Jan132018

The Novel You Had in Mind

I always find that the novel I’m finishing, even if it’s turned out fairly well, is not the novel I had in my mind. I think a lot of writers must negotiate this, and if they don’t admit it, they’re not being honest. You have started the book with this bubble over your head that contains a cathedral full of fire — that contains a novel so vast and great and penetrating and bright and dark that it will put all other novels ever written to shame. And then, as you get towards the end, you begin to realize, no, it’s just this book.

MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM

Friday
Jan122018

Readers Are More Sophisticated Than Critics

Readers, I think, are more sophisticated on the whole than critics. They can make the jumps, they can make imaginative leaps. If your structure is firm and solid enough, however strange, however unusual, they will be able to follow it. They will climb with you to the most unlikely places if they trust you, if the words give them the right footholds, the right handholds. That’s what I want my readers to do: I want them to come with me when we’re going mountain-climbing. This isn’t a walk through a theme park. This is some dangerous place that neither of us has been before, and I hope that by traveling there first, I can encourage the reader to come with me and that we will make the trip again together, and safely.

JEANETTE WINTERSON

Thursday
Jan112018

A Writer Is Someone Who Pays Attention

A writer, I think, is someone who pays attention to the world. That means trying to understand, take in, connect with, what wickedness human beings are capable of; and not be corrupted—made cynical, superficial—by this understanding.

SUSAN SONTAG

Wednesday
Jan102018

Listen

Here’s a warning. If you don’t listen, if you go around arrogantly making up dialogue for your characters, all of them will sound like you, and that’s one of the ways bad short stories and novels are written. (Also bad journalism, oddly enough. Because certain arrogant journalists make up their own quotes.)

CAROLYN SEE

Tuesday
Jan092018

Think Small

Write about small, self-contained incidents that are still vivid in your memory. If you remember them, it’s because they contain a larger truth that your readers will recognize in their own lives. Think small and you’ll wind up finding the big themes in your family saga.

WILLIAM ZINSSER

Monday
Jan082018

Get Your Moon In the Right Part of the Sky

I never found out the moon didn’t come up in the west until I was a writer and Herschel Brickell, the literary critic, told me after I misplaced it in a story. He said valuable words to me about my new profession: “Always be sure you get your moon in the right part of the sky.”

EUDORA WELTY

Sunday
Jan072018

Exercising Is a Good Analogy for Writing

Exercising is a good analogy for writing. If you’re not used to exercising you want to avoid it forever. If you’re used to it, it feels uncomfortable and strange not to. No matter where you are in your writing career, the same is true for writing. Even fifteen minutes a day will keep you in the habit.

JENNIFER EGAN

Saturday
Jan062018

Forget the Mumbo Jumbo and Just Write the Damn Script

Get a hold of three or four terrific original scripts. You decide which ones. Read them; analyze them if you want, or just let them wash over you. Notice their format: it’s standard in the industry, no exceptions. Then throw away or erase from memory all the books, articles, and lessons that reference or espouse three-act structures, five- and seven-act structures, “inciting events,” “character arcs,” “redemption,” Joseph Campbell’s name, plot graphs and charts, or supposed “tricks of the trade.” Forget the mumbo jumbo and just write the damn script and finish it in 120 pages or less. If you’re sufficiently talented, original, and inspired, nothing else is necessary. If you’re not, nothing else will help. If it turns out that you lack one or all of those elements, write another script. Maybe another. Give up when you can’t take it anymore. The time saved by not reading all those how-to books should be enough to carry you through the first several scripts at least, with time to spare. Sound cruel? Ask any screenwriter.

TONY BILL

Friday
Jan052018

Have Adventures

Have adventures. The Hemingway mode was in ascendancy for decades before it was eclipsed by trendy fabulist “exercises.” The pendulum is swinging back, though, and it’s going to knock these effete eggheads right out of their Aeron chairs. Keep ahead of the curve. Get out and see the world. It’s not going to kill you to butch it up a tad. Book passage on a tramp steamer. Rustle up some dysentery; it’s worth it for the fever dreams alone. Lose a kidney in a knife fight. You’ll be glad you did.

COLSON WHITEHEAD

Thursday
Jan042018

Spend It All

One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.

ANNIE DILLARD