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Recommended Books
  • A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation
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  • Adventures in the Screen Trade
    Adventures in the Screen Trade
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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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  • The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present
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  • The Associated Press Stylebook 2009 (Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law)
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  • Aspects of the Novel
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  • Becoming a Writer
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  • Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
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  • Booknotes: America's Finest Authors on Reading, Writing, and the Power of Ideas
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    The Copyeditor's Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications
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  • The Craft of Fiction
    The Craft of Fiction
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    The Editor's Lexicon: Essential Writing Terms for Novelists
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    Editors on Editing: What Writers Need to Know About What Editors Do
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  • The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition
    The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition
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    Fiction Writer's Handbook
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    Follow the Story: How to Write Successful Nonfiction
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  • The Forest for the Trees: An Editor's Advice to Writers
    The Forest for the Trees: An Editor's Advice to Writers
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    For Writers Only
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    The Friendly Shakespeare: A Thoroughly Painless Guide to the Best of the Bard
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  • How Fiction Works
    How Fiction Works
    by James Wood
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    How Not to Write: The Essential Misrules of Grammar
    by William Safire
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    How to Get Happily Published
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  • Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir
    Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir
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    Keep the Aspidistra Flying (Harvest Book)
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    Letters to a Young Poet: Translated and with a Foreword By Stephen Mitchell
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    Making a Literary Life
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    Master Class: Scenes from a Fiction Workshop
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    The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer's Block, and the Creative Brain
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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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    One Writer's Beginnings (The William E. Massey Sr. Lectures in the History of American Civilization)
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    On Writing Short Stories
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    On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft
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    On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
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    The Oxford Dictionary of Allusions (Oxford Paperback Reference)
    Oxford University Press, USA
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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.)
    by Francine Prose
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    The Rhetoric of Fiction
    by Wayne C. Booth
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    The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life
    by Julia Cameron
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    Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print
    by Renni Browne, Dave King
  • Dan Poynter's Self-Publishing Manual, 16th Edition: How to Write, Print and Sell Your Own Book (Self Publishing Manual)
    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
  • Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
    Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
    by Scott Mccloud
  • What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers
    What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers
    by Anne Bernays, Pamela Painter
  • 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 Writer on Her Work, Volume 1
    The Writer on Her Work, Volume 1
    by Janet Sternberg
  • The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition
    The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition
    by Christopher Vogler
  • 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
    The Writing Life
    by Annie Dillard
  • 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 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

QUOTE OF THE DAY

Wednesday
Sep022009

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

Tuesday
Sep012009

You're Never Going to Have Power

The more serious you are as a writer, the more you feel yourself an outsider—that you'll never be someone who is going to organize the world and transform it in a logical way; you're never going to think in any kind of politically logical way, and you're never going to really have any power.

WILLIAM KENNEDY

Monday
Aug312009

Criticism Can Never Benefit You

Criticism can never instruct or benefit you. Its chief effect is that of a telegram with dubious news. Praise leaves no glow behind, for it is a writer's habit to remember nothing good of himself. I have usually forgotten those who have admired my work, and seldom anyone who disliked it. Obviously, this is because praise is never enough and censure always too much.

BEN HECHT

Sunday
Aug302009

The Poet Makes Himself A Seer

By a long, immense and reasoned derangement of the senses, the poet makes himself a seer. By seeking in himself all forms of love, pain and madness, by turning himself into the great sick man, the great criminal, the great accursed, the poet reaches the unknown; and if, maddened, he should end by losing understanding of his visions, at least he has seen them.

ARTHUR RIMBAUD

Saturday
Aug292009

Don't Be Thin-Skinned

Try to develop steady work habits, maybe a more modest quota, but keep to it. Don’t be thin-skinned or easily discouraged because it’s an odds-long proposition; all of the arts are. Many are called, few are chosen, but it might be you.

JOHN UPDIKE

Friday
Aug282009

Who Will Teach Me to Write?

Who will teach me to write? a reader wanted to know. The page, the page, the blankness of eternity which you cover slowly, affirming time’s scrawl as a right and your daring as necessity; the page, which you cover woodenly, ruining it, but asserting your freedom and power to act, acknowledging that you ruin everything you touch but touching it nevertheless, because acting is better than being here in mere opacity; the page, which you cover slowly with the crabbed thread of your gut; the page in the purity of its possibilities; the page of your death, against which you pit such flawed excellences as you can muster with all your life’s strength: that page will teach you to write.

ANNIE DILLARD

Thursday
Aug272009

Choosing An Agent Is Like Choosing A Hairdresser

Choosing an agent is a lot like choosing a hairdresser. If you know a bunch of writers (and most writers do because who else is home all day?) ask the successful ones who represents them. If you don't know any writers, look at books by authors you admire and see which agent the author thanked in the acknowledgements. Send five to ten of these agents a resumé, cover letter, and proposal for what you're trying to sell (it's imperative that the prospective agent knows that you have a money-making project in mind). Interview the agents who respond positively and pick the one you like best. If no one responds positively, send your stuff to another five to ten agents. Don't take it personally. Think of it as practice in handling rejection. (Believe me, you'll need all the practice you can get.)

MARGO KAUFMAN

Wednesday
Aug262009

Live Before You Write

Spend some time living before you start writing. What I find to be very bad advice is the snappy little sentence, “Write what you know.” It is the most tiresome and stupid advice that could possibly be given. If we write simply about what we know we never grow. We don't develop any facility for languages, or an interest in others, or a desire to travel and explore and face experience head-on. We just coil tighter and tighter into our boring little selves. What one should write about is what interests one.

ANNIE PROULX

Tuesday
Aug252009

Writing Is Lucky Work

I have never liked to suggest that writing is grinding, let alone brave work. H. L. Mencken used to say that any scribbler who found writing too arduous ought to take a week off to work on an assembly line, where he will discover what work is really like. The old boy, as they say, got that right. To be able to sit home and put words together in what one hopes are charming or otherwise striking sentences is, no matter how much tussle may be involved, lucky work, a privileged job. The only true grit connected with it ought to arrive when, thinking to complain about how hard it is to write, one is smart enough to shut up and silently grit one’s teeth.

JOSEPH EPSTEIN

Monday
Aug242009

In Defense of the Adjective

I beg the privilege of demurring for a few moments against a high-flown disdain for the adjective. We’ve been cautioned by such proven masters as Ernest Hemingway, Clifton Fadiman and Mark Twain, to avoid the adjective as though it were a contagious disease. Here’s Fadiman:

“The adjective is the banana peel of the parts of speech.”

Mark Twain: “As to the adjective, when in doubt, strike it out.”

Hemingway: “If an adjective happens, kill it.”

All of which seems to me a bum rap against the language enjoyed worldwide by people who use a homely but sturdy adjective every day, billions of us: “good morning, good afternoon, good evening, good night" in all the languages of our polyglot world; and, by way of reinforcement, most of us rely on convenient adjectives such as “passable, great, terrific” or “lousy.” Not to speak of the bonhomie generated worldwide around Christmas; and by the pleasant modifier in happy New Year.

NORMAN CORWIN

Sunday
Aug232009

An Artist Needs Passion

Saturday
Aug222009

No Cheap Tricks

I overheard the writer Geoffrey Wolff say "No cheap tricks" to a group of writing students. That should go on a three-by-five card. I'd amend it a little to "No tricks." Period. I hate tricks. At the first sign of a trick or a gimmick in a piece of fiction, a cheap trick or even an elaborate trick, I tend to look for cover. Tricks are ultimately boring, and I get bored easily, which may go along with my not having much of an attention span. But extremely clever chichi writing, or just plain tomfoolery writing, puts me to sleep. Writers don't need tricks or gimmicks or even necessarily need to be the smartest fellows on the block. At the risk of appearing foolish, a writer sometimes needs to be able to just stand and gape at this or that thing—a sunset or an old shoe—in absolute and simple amazement.

RAYMOND CARVER

Friday
Aug212009

The Three Necessary Elements of A Story

There are three necessary elements in a story—exposition, development, and drama. Exposition we may illustrate as “John Fortescue was a solicitor in the little town of X”; development as “One day Mrs. Fortescue told him she was about to leave him for another man”; and drama as “You will do nothing of the kind,” he said.

FRANK O’CONNOR

Thursday
Aug202009

Agents Make Good Partners

Agents make good partners, particularly if you don’t live in New York (but even if you do). If they’re competent they know the going rates and the best terms; they know which editors might be interested in your work. Don’t ask them for literary judgments about your projects. They’ll give them and you’ll be sorry you asked. (My agent friends will kill me for saying so, but literary acumen ain’t their forte. Nor should it be—that’s your job.) They’ll cost you at least ten, more usually fifteen percent of your writing income. You should see as you go along that their contribution of contacts and negotiating expertise adds at least that much to the total (and if it doesn’t add more, you ought to look elsewhere).

RICHARD RHODES

Wednesday
Aug192009

Do Not Sit and Mope

Now you may ask, what if my characters won't talk to me? What if they won't even visit? The only answer is to think and think some more, and then go out and read and look and listen some more. Do not sit and mope. Do not sigh. Do not throw up your hands and give up on the whole project. Do not go back to the drawing board. There is nothing more depressing than an empty drawing board. No, go back to the world, which is where all characters originally come from.

ALLEGRA GOODMAN

Tuesday
Aug182009

Think Like A Writer

You can teach almost anyone determined to learn them the basics required to write sentences and paragraphs that say what you want them to say clearly and concisely. It's far more difficult to get people to think like a writer, to give up conventional habits of mind and emotion. You must be able to step inside your character's skin and at the same time to remain outside the dicey circumstances you have maneuvered her into. I can't remember how many times I advised students to stop writing the sunny hours and write from where it hurts: "No one wants to read polite. It puts them to sleep."

ANNE BERNAYS

Monday
Aug172009

Write A Good Sentence

Sunday
Aug162009

Experience Is Overrated

Saturday
Aug152009