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Recommended Books
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    Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do
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    Women Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews
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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
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    The Writer on Her Work, Volume 1
    by Janet Sternberg
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    The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition
    by Christopher Vogler
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    The Writer's Legal Companion: The Complete Handbook For The Working Writer, Third Edition
    by Brad Bunnin, Peter Beren
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    by Mario Vargas Llosa
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    A Writer's Time: Making the Time to Write
    by Kenneth Atchity
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    by William Zinsser
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    Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within (Paperback)
    by Natalie Goldberg (Author)
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    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

Tuesday
Feb172015

Ask Yourself Four Questions

A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself two more: Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?

GEORGE ORWELL

Monday
Feb162015

The Unconscious Takes Over

The unconscious mind takes the germ of an idea and develops it, but usually this happens only when a writer has tried hard, and logically, to develop it himself. After he has given it up for a few hours, getting nowhere, a great advancement of the plot will pop into his head. I have been waked up in the night sometimes by a plot advancement or a solution of a problem that I had not even been dreaming about.

PATRICIA HIGHSMITH

Sunday
Feb152015

Show the Reader What the Character Thinks About

If you want your reader to understand something about a given character, his habits of intellection and control of his emotions, show the reader what the character thinks about, and then the reader will think about it too.

GEORGE V. HIGGINS

Saturday
Feb142015

Choice of Subject Is of Cardinal Importance

Choice of subject is of cardinal importance. One does by far one’s best work when besotted by and absorbed in the matter at hand.

JESSICA MITFORD

Friday
Feb132015

Write A Good Sentence

Nothing is more satisfying than to write a good sentence. It is no fun to write lumpishly, dully, in prose the reader must plod through like wet sand. But it is a pleasure to achieve, if one can, a clear running prose that is simple yet full of surprises. This does not just happen. It requires skill, hard work, a good ear, and continued practice.

BARBARA W. TUCHMAN

Thursday
Feb122015

You Do Not Need to Leave Your Room

You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.

FRANZ KAFKA

Wednesday
Feb112015

Get To Work

Sit in sun. Sun goes behind cloud. Look at watch. Notice that second-hand does not always point directly at little marks on dial. Sometimes it does, though. Then sometimes it doesn't. Why? Feel panic at how quickly life slips by. Get to work.

NICHOLSON BAKER

Tuesday
Feb102015

Respect Your Genre

Respect the genre you’re writing in. In an effort to put your own stamp on it, don’t ignore the established conventions of that genre—or you’ll alienate your core audience of loyal buyers.

KATHLEEN KRULL

Monday
Feb092015

Read Bad Stuff

If you are going to learn from other writers don’t only read the great ones, because if you do that you’ll get so filled with despair and the fear that you’ll never be able to do anywhere near as well as they did that you’ll stop writing. I recommend that you read a lot of bad stuff, too. It’s very encouraging. “Hey, I can do so much better than this.” Read the greatest stuff but read the stuff that isn’t so great, too. Great stuff is very discouraging.

EDWARD ALBEE

Sunday
Feb082015

Don't Think Too Much About the Publishing World

I don't think it's a good idea for writers to think too much about the publishing world. I sense in a good many books, even in books by the best writers, an anxiety about how it will do in the marketplace. You can feel it on the page, a sort of sweat of calculation.

ELIZABETH HARDWICK

Saturday
Feb072015

Try To Make Editors Tell You What They Want

Try to make them tell you what they really want. Most often they recognize what they don’t want, but have a much harder time explaining what it is you’re supposed to give them. Make them tell!

MAUREEN ORTH

Friday
Feb062015

Books Must Be Written, Not Talked

In a longish life as a professional writer, I have heard a thousand masterpieces talked out over bars, restaurant tables and love seats. I have never seen one of them in print. Books must be written, not talked.

MORRIS L. WEST

Thursday
Feb052015

Leave Something Behind

It is the deepest desire of every writer, the one we never admit or even dare to speak of: to write a book we can leave as a legacy. And although it is sometimes easy to forget, wanting to be a writer is not about reviews or advances or how many copies are printed or sold. It is much simpler than that, and much more passionate. If you do it right, and if they publish it, you may actually leave something behind that can last forever.

ALICE HOFFMAN

Wednesday
Feb042015

Write What Scares You

Everyone tells you to write what you know. It’s the tried-and-true advice every writer hears at some point in her career. But to take my writing to a deeper level, I’ve found that a better practice is to simply write what frightens you, haunts you, even. ... I now keep a sign on the bulletin board in my office that reads: “Write What Scares You.” I’ve learned that tapping into the hard stuff — whether it’s the fear of loss or a boogeyman lurking in childhood memories — is what ultimately gives a story the power to leap off the page and grab you by the collar.

SARAH JIO

Tuesday
Feb032015

A Good Style Comes From Lack of Pretentiousness

A good style comes primarily from lack of pretentiousness, and what is pretentious changes from year to year from day to day from minute to minute. We must be ever more careful. A man does not get old because he nears death; a man gets old because he can no longer see the false from the good.

CHARLES BUKOWSKI

Monday
Feb022015

Stories Must Have Life at the End

Life goes on, and for the sake of verisimilitude and realism, you cannot possibly give the impression of an ending: you must let something hang. A cheap interpretation of that would be to say that you must always leave a chance for a sequel. People die, love dies, but life does not die, and so long as people live, stories must have life at the end.

JOHN O’HARA

Sunday
Feb012015

Allow Yourself to Write Poorly

First, you get the idea. It may germinate for a long time or it just pops into your head. And then you work out a structure. And when you feel confident enough, you start to write. And you have to allow yourself the liberty of writing poorly. You have to get the bulk of it done, and then you start to refine it. You have to put down less than marvelous material just to keep going to whatever you think the end is going to be—which may be something else altogether by the time you get there.

LARRY GELBART

Saturday
Jan312015

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

Friday
Jan302015

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

Thursday
Jan292015

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

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