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Recommended Books
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    The Oxford Dictionary of Allusions (Oxford Paperback Reference)
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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)
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  • Simple & Direct
    Simple & Direct
    by Jacques Barzun
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    Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences
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    The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative
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    The Sound on the Page: Great Writers Talk about Style and Voice in Writing
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    Story: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of Screenwriting
    by Robert Mckee
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    Stylish Academic Writing
    by Helen Sword
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    Successful Television Writing
    by Lee Goldberg, William Rabkin
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    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
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    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

Wednesday
Jan032018

A Word About Villains

A word about villains. You want to know your villains very well indeed or you’re better advised not to go inside their heads at all. A villain, by definition, is somebody different from “us.” A villain is indecent, incomprehensible, from the land of “them.” Who knows what makes them act the way they do? A decent human being can’t figure them out! And part of our ongoing fiction about ourselves is that we’re the good guys. The enduring paradox is that they think they’re the good guys.

CAROLYN SEE

Tuesday
Jan022018

Go Against the Devils

Write against patterns. Go against the devils. Write what you never write. Lie. Validate what you don’t validate. Indulge what you don’t like. Wallow in it. Write the opposite of what you always write, think, speak. Do everything against the grain!

DEENA METZGER

Monday
Jan012018

Find the Right Word

A writer who has never explored words, who has never searched, seeded, sieved, sifted through his knowledge and memory…dictionaries, thesaurus, poems, favorite paragraphs, to find the right word, is like someone owning a gold mine who has never mined it.

RUMER GODDEN

Sunday
Dec312017

Storytelling Is an Act of Cruelty

Storytelling is an act of cruelty. We are cruel to our characters because to be kind is to invite boredom, and boredom in storytelling is synonymous with big doomy death-shaped death. So: be cruel to your protagonist. Rob him of something. Something important. Something he needs. A weapon. An asset. A piece of knowledge. A loved one. A DELICIOUS PIE. Take it away! Force him to operate without it. Conflict reinvigorates stale stories. New conflict, or old conflict that has evolved and grown teeth.

CHUCK WENDIG

Saturday
Dec302017

Dialogue Is Not Conversation

Young writers often confuse dialogue with conversation, under the assumption that the closer you get to reality, the more convincing you sound. But dialogue is not conversation. Dialogue is a construct; it is artificial; it is much more efficient and believable than real conversation. Just as fiction itself distorts reality in order to achieve a larger truth, so dialogue eliminates all the false starts and irrelevant intrusions of real life in order to reveal character and move the encounter toward a dramatic conclusion.

JOHN L'HEUREUX

Friday
Dec292017

Art Stands on the Shoulders of Craft

Art stands on the shoulders of craft, which means that to get to the art, you must master the craft. If you want to write, practice writing. Practice it for hours a day, not to come up with a story you can publish but because you long to learn how to write well, because there is something that you alone can say.

ANN PATCHETT

Thursday
Dec282017

What Makes a Writer

I should think it extremely improbable that anyone ever wrote simply for the money. What makes a writer is that he likes writing. Naturally, when he has written something, he wants to get as much for it as he can, but that is a very different thing from writing for money.

P.G. WODEHOUSE

Wednesday
Dec272017

Say All You Have to Say in the Fewest Possible Words

Say all you have to say in the fewest possible words, or your reader will be sure to skip them; and in the plainest possible words or he will certainly misunderstand them.

JOHN RUSKIN

Tuesday
Dec262017

Finish Your First Draft

The best advice on writing was given to me by my first editor, Michael Korda, of Simon and Schuster, while writing my first book. "Finish your first draft and then we'll talk," he said. It took me a long time to realize how good the advice was. Even if you write it wrong, write and finish your first draft. Only then, when you have a flawed whole, do you know what you have to fix.

DOMINICK DUNNE

Monday
Dec252017

That vs. Which

That is the defining, or restrictive pronoun, which is the nondefining, or nonrestrictive. . . .

The lawn mower that is broken is in the garage. (Tells which one)

The lawn mower, which is broken, is in the garage. (Adds a fact about the only lawn mower in question)

The use of which for that is common and written and spoken language (“Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass.”) Occasionally which seems preferable to that, as in the sentence from the Bible. But it would be a convenience to all if these two pronouns were used with precision. The careful writer, watchful for small conveniences, goes which-hunting, removes the defining whiches, and by so doing improves his work.

William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White

Sunday
Dec242017

Force Yourself to Write Non-Stop

[If you have writer's block] force yourself to write non-stop for twenty or thirty minutes: no deletions, no erasures, no pauses. If that doesn't work, take a break. Take a walk. Pack up your writing supplies and go someplace new. Sit in a coffee shop, find a cozy spot in a library, go to a park. If you're truly desperate, go away for a few days. Take a train to a distant city and write onboard (on Amtrak, you can actually plug in your computer. But coffee is essential: without it, the train will rock you to sleep.) It often helps to do something entirely nonverbal, like making a collage or playing music. And it always helps to understand that writer's block is a widespread malady. To strengthen your feeling of solidarity with the scribbling classes, watch these movies: The ShiningMiseryBarton FinkDeconstructing Harry, all of which explore the consequences of writer's block.

NANCY HATHAWAY

Saturday
Dec232017

“What’s the Best Thing That Happened Today?”

If you ask yourself, “What’s the best thing that happened today?” it actually forces a certain kind of cheerful retrospection that pulls up from the recent past things to write about that you wouldn’t otherwise think about. If you ask yourself, “What happened today?” it’s very likely that you’re going to remember the worst thing, because you’ve had to deal with it–you’ve had to rush somewhere or somebody said something mean to you–that’s what you’re going to remember. But if you ask what the best thing is, it’s going to be some particular slant of light, or some wonderful expression somebody had, or some particularly delicious salad. I mean, you never know.

NICHOLSON BAKER

Friday
Dec222017

Emotional Payoff Is What It’s All About

For me, that emotional payoff is what it’s all about. I want you to laugh or cry when you read a story...or do both at the same time. I want your heart, in other words. If you want to learn something, go to school.

STEPHEN KING

Thursday
Dec212017

Memoir Is Like Therapy

In terms of cathartic affect, memoir is like therapy, the difference being that in therapy, you pay them. The therapist is the mommy, and you’re the baby. In memoir, you’re the mommy, and the reader’s the baby. And—hopefully—they pay you.

MARY KARR

Wednesday
Dec202017

Make Notes

Make notes—I’ve lost more material than I’ve ever written. Contrary to popular opinion, it’s not still up there in one’s brain. It’s in outer space and it ain’t coming back.

JUDITH GUEST

Tuesday
Dec192017

We Are Writers

We are writers. We danced with words, as children, in what became familiar patterns. The words became our friends and our companions, and without even saying it aloud, a thought danced with them: I can do this. This is who I am.

ANNA QUINDLEN

Monday
Dec182017

Writing Should Be Kind of Invisible

Writing is trying hard to do two things, as I see it. One is to be entertaining in itself. Any page of good prose has something of the quality of a poem. It’s interesting in itself even if you don’t know the story or quite what you’re reading. It has a kind of abstract dynamism. But also it is trying to deliver images and a story to a reader, so in that sense it should be kind of invisible.

JOHN UPDIKE

Sunday
Dec172017

Get the Reader to Care

Every genuinely literary style, from the high authorial voice to Foster Wallace and his footnotes-within-footnotes, requires the reader to see the world from somewhere in particular, or from many places. So every novelist’s literary style is nothing less than an ethical strategy—it’s always an attempt to get the reader to care about people who are not the same as he or she is.

ZADIE SMITH

Saturday
Dec162017

Essays Are the Last Stand for the Seriousness of Prose Entertainment

Essay writing and reading is our resistance to the pygmy-fication of the language animal; our shrinkage into the brand, the sound bite, the business platitude; the solipsistic tweet. Essays are the last, heroic stand for the seriousness of prose entertainment; our best hope of liberating text from texting.

SIMON SCHAMA

Friday
Dec152017

Everybody Knows a Thousand Stories

Everybody knows a thousand stories, but only one cocklebur catches in your fur and that subject is your question. You live with that question. You may not even know what that question is. It hangs around a long time. I've carried a novel as long as 20 years, and some poems longer than that.

ROBERT PENN WARREN