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Recommended Books
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  • Simple & Direct
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    Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences
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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
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    Stylish Academic Writing
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    Successful Television Writing
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    The Summing Up
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    13 Ways of Looking at the Novel
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    Tales from the Script: 50 Hollywood Screenwriters Share Their Stories
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    To Show and to Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction
    by Phillip Lopate
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    What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers
    by Anne Bernays, Pamela Painter
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    Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
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    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
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    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

Sunday
Sep102017

People Rarely Confront Things Head-On

Most scenes are rarely about what the subject matter is. You soon see the power of dealing obliquely or elliptically with situations, because most people rarely confront things head-on.

ROBERT TOWNE

Saturday
Sep092017

Practice, Practice, Practice

What you want is practice, practice, practice. It doesn’t matter what we write (at least this is my view) at our age, so long as we write continually as well as we can. I feel that every time I write a page either of prose or of verse, with real effort, even if it’s thrown into the fire the next minute, I am so much further on.

C.S. LEWIS

Friday
Sep082017

Becoming a Writer Is About Becoming Conscious

Becoming a writer is about becoming conscious. When you're conscious and writing from a place of insight and simplicity and real caring about the truth, you have the ability to throw the lights on for your reader. He or she will recognize his or her life and truth in what you say, in the pictures you have painted, and this decreases the terrible sense of isolation that we have all had too much of.

ANNE LAMOTT

Thursday
Sep072017

Stop Worrying About Writing a Great Novel

With characterization, you have to let go. You’ve got to release yourself from your grandiose intentions, your ambitions, your ideas about humanity, literature, and philosophy by focusing on the being-another-person aspect of it—which, by the way, is freeing, delightful, and one of the few real joys of writing. Stop worrying about writing a great novel—just become another human being.

ETHAN CANIN

Wednesday
Sep062017

Three Levels of Readership

There seem to be three levels of readership: at the bottom, those who go after “human interest”; in the middle, the people who want ideas, packaged thought about Life and Truth; at the top, the proper readers, who go for style.

VLADIMIR NABOKOV

Tuesday
Sep052017

The Subtraction of Weight

My working method has more often than not involved the subtraction of weight. I have tried to remove weight, sometimes from people, sometimes from heavenly bodies, sometimes from cities; above all I have tried to remove weight from the structure of stories and from language... . Maybe I was only then becoming aware of the weight, the inertia, the opacity of the world--qualities that stick to writing from the start, unless one finds some way of evading them.

UMBERTO ECO

Monday
Sep042017

Understanding Poetry

I don't quite understand about understanding poetry. I experience poems with pleasure: whether I understand them or not I'm not quite sure. I don't want to read something I already know or which is going to slide down easily: there has to be some crunch, a certain amount of resilience.

JOHN ASHBERY

Sunday
Sep032017

Don’t Sit Down in the Middle of the Woods

Don’t sit down in the middle of the woods. If you’re lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page.

MARGARET ATWOOD

Saturday
Sep022017

A Good Stylist Should Have Narcissistic Enjoyment as He Works

A good stylist should have narcissistic enjoyment as he works. He must be able to objectivize his work to such an extent that he catches himself feeling envious and has to jog his memory to find that he is himself the creator. In short, he must display that highest degree of objectivity which the world calls vanity.

KARL KRAUS

Friday
Sep012017

A Lot of Life Doesn't Go Anywhere

I’m interested in the way a character imagines his or her own reality, navigates it, gets it wrong, has a new idea, and rebuilds. I find that to be a pretty important experience as a human being. My life has a plot, certainly, but I live an internal life inside my head, and I think that’s probably true for most people, except for shut-down morons hypnotized by TV or sex or whatever. A lot of life doesn’t go anywhere, and what’s interesting is what happens on the inside in that time.

OTTESSA MOSHFEGH

Thursday
Aug312017

Writing Is About Charm

We’re not only allowed to think about audience, we’d better. What we’re doing in writing is not all that different from what we’ve been doing all our lives, i.e., using our personalities as a way of coping with life. Writing is about charm, about finding and accessing and honing ones’ particular charms. To say that “a light goes on” is not quite right—it’s more like: a fixture gets installed.

GEORGE SAUNDERS

Wednesday
Aug302017

Shut Yourself in a Room

My block was due to two overlapping factors: laziness and lack of discipline. If you really want to write, then shut yourself in a room, close the door, and WRITE. If you don't want to write, do something else. It's as simple as that.
MARY GARDEN

Tuesday
Aug292017

Writing Is a Process of Inner Expansion and Reduction

The process of writing is a process of inner expansion and reduction. It’s like an accordion: You open it and then you bring it back, hoping that additional sound—a new clarity—may come out. It’s all for clarity.

JERZY KOSINSKI

Monday
Aug282017

Don’t Tell Anybody What Your Book Is About 

Don’t tell anybody what your book is about and don’t show it until it’s finished. It’s not that anybody will steal your idea but that all the energy that goes into the writing of your story will be dissipated.

DAVID WALLECHINSKY

Sunday
Aug272017

Never Compromise Excellence

Never compromise excellence. To write for someone else is the biggest mistake that any writer makes. You should be your biggest competitor, your biggest critic, your biggest fan, because you don’t know what anybody else thinks. How arrogant it is to assume that you know the market, that you know what’s popular today.... Write what you want to see. Because if you don’t, you’re not going to have any true passion in it, and it’s not going to be done with any true artistry.

JOHN MILIUS

Saturday
Aug262017

Who's Your Ideal Reader?

Who’s your ideal reader? Don’t imagine someone who loves your work and gets what you’re trying to do. Imagine the most impatient person you know, the one whose attention is hard to hold onto, the one who says spit it out or get to the point when you’re trying to tell an anecdote. That’s your ideal reader. If you can successfully engage someone like that, you’re probably not cutting yourself any slack in the clarity department, and you’re definitely not cutting yourself any slack in the economy department.

PATRICK RYAN

Friday
Aug252017

Character is the Very Life of Fiction

Character is the very life of fiction. Setting exists so that the character has someplace to stand. Plot exists so the character can discover what he is really like, forcing the character to choice and action. And theme exists only to make the character stand up and be somebody.

JOHN GARDNER

Thursday
Aug242017

Ask Yourself, Who Wants What?

A man or woman wants something and goes after it. In the process, they win, lose, or draw. John Gardner famously said that there are really only two stories in the world—a man or woman goes on a journey, or a stranger rides into town. And sometimes the best stories are an amalgamation of the two.

RICK BASS

Wednesday
Aug232017

Writing a Memoir Is Knocking Yourself Out with Your Own Fist

In some ways, writing a memoir is knocking yourself out with your own fist, if it’s done right. Sure, there’s the pleasure of doing work guaranteed to engage you emotionally—who’s indifferent to their own history? The form always has profound psychological consequence on its author. It can’t not. What project can match it for that? Plus you get to hang out with folks no longer on this side of the grass. Places and times you may have for decades ached after wind up erecting themselves around you as you work.

MARY KARR

Tuesday
Aug222017

The First Paragraph

One of the most difficult things is the first paragraph. I have spent many months on a first paragraph and once I get it, the rest just comes out very easily. In the first paragraph you solve most of the problems with your book. The theme is defined, the style, the tone. At least in my case, the first paragraph is a kind of sample of what the rest of the book is going to be.

GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ