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Recommended Books
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    The Oxford Dictionary of Allusions (Oxford Paperback Reference)
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    The Paris Review Interviews, Vols. 1-4
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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
  • 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
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    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

Monday
Aug212017

Cruising the Internet Doesn't Count as Writing

Cruising the Internet doesn't count as writing. Neither does answering e-mail. Before you check Twitter & FB and do other similar tasks that get in the way of writing, write first. (I really need to take my own advice here!)

TERRY McMILLAN

Sunday
Aug202017

It Takes Time to Find Your True Voice

I think a writer’s voice is really his or her authentic, natural voice—the way she actually expresses herself and sees the world. But it takes time to get to that. I think the first many years of writing you tend to write the way you think you’re supposed to sound, and gradually (if you’re lucky) you begin dropping that affect and getting to what is your true voice. In time, you come to know that voice well enough that you know how to emphasize it, enrich it.

SUSAN ORLEAN

Saturday
Aug192017

A Writer Should Get As Much Education As Possible

A writer should get as much education as possible, but just going to school is not enough; if it were, all owners of doctorates would be inspired writers.

GWENDOLYN BROOKS

Friday
Aug182017

Don’t Introduce 20 Characters in the First Chapter

Don’t introduce 20 characters in the first chapter. Another rookie mistake. Your readers are eager to get started. Don’t bombard them with a barrage of names from four generations of the same family. Five names are enough to get started.

JOHN GRISHAM

Thursday
Aug172017

Swing for the Fences

Each time out should be a swing for the fences. Don't do base-running drills. You can do those on your own time.

TOBIAS WOLFF

Wednesday
Aug162017

The Purpose of Being a Writer Is Not to Express Oneself

The purpose of being a serious writer is not to express oneself, and it is not to make something beautiful, though one might do those things anyway. Those things are beside the point. The purpose of being a serious writer is to keep people from despair. If you keep that in mind always, the wish to make something beautiful or smart looks slight and vain in comparison. If people read your work and, as a result, choose life, then you are doing your job.

SARAH MANGUSO

Tuesday
Aug152017

Life Is Not Always Explained

Life is not always explained. When I used to teach summer classes at Columbia, I would often take my students to the Hungarian Pastry Shop on the Upper West Side. I would ask them to bring a notebook and to surreptitiously document, word for word, all the conversations they overheard. When we came back to the classroom we read these aloud. What we heard was fascinating. People never talk directly at one another. They seem to always talk in circles.

ANNIE DeWITT

Monday
Aug142017

Fictional Characters Aren't People 

Fictional characters aren't people — except sometimes to readers who want them to be. And they're especially not people to those of us who make them up. Instead, characters are imminently mutable, cobbled-together bits of language reflecting the this's and that's of a writer's life — memory, fantasy, fears, desires, suppressed experience, shards of speech, half-noticed newspaper squibs, over-hearings, mishearings — all of it subjected to the writer's often whimsical will, then put on to the page for others.

RICHARD FORD

Sunday
Aug132017

Ultimately You Write Alone

Ultimately you write alone. And ultimately you and you alone can judge your work. The judgment that a work is complete—this is what I meant to do, and I stand by it—can come only from the writer, and it can be made rightly only by a writer who’s learned to read her own work. Group criticism is great training for self-criticism. But until quite recently no writer had that training, and yet they learned what they needed. They learned it by doing it.

URSULA K. LE GUIN

Saturday
Aug122017

A Story Is Like a Human Face

I’m trying to show the multiple variations of the entire life. I don’t want to be like other authors and say that there are only a few story lines in literature. A story is like a human face. We have as many stories as human faces. You might have similar facial features, but they’re all a little different.

SVETLANA ALEXIEVICH

Friday
Aug112017

Great Themes Make Great Novels

They say great themes make great novels. That's so, of course, but what these young writers don't understand is that there is no greater theme than men and women.

JOHN O’HARA

Thursday
Aug102017

The Truth Is We Write for Love

Despite all the cynical things writers have said about writing for money, the truth is we write for love. That is why it is so easy to exploit us. That is also why we pretend to be hard-boiled, saying things like “No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money” (Samuel Johnson). Not true. No one but a blockhead ever wrote except for love. . . . You must do it for love. If you do it for money, no money will ever be enough, and eventually you will start imitating your first successes, straining hot water through the same old teabag. It doesn’t work with tea, and it doesn’t work with writing.

ERICA JONG

Wednesday
Aug092017

Your Writing Room Should Be Private

Like your bedroom, your writing room should be private, a place where you go to dream. Your schedule — in at about the same time every day, out when your thousand words are on paper or disk — exists in order to habituate yourself, to make yourself ready to dream just as you make yourself ready to sleep by going to bed at roughly the same time each night and following the same ritual as you go.

STEPHEN KING

Tuesday
Aug082017

Good Writing Never Soothes or Comforts

Good writing never soothes or comforts. It is no prescription, neither is it diversionary, although it can and should enchant while it explodes in the reader's face. Whenever the writer writes, it's always three or four or five o'clock in the morning in his head. Those horrid hours are the writer's days and nights when he is writing.

JOY WILLIAMS

Monday
Aug072017

Nothing's Going Too Far

Nothing’s going too far. Whenever I get to the point where I think things are going too far, I know I have to go there.

CHUCK PALAHNIUK

Sunday
Aug062017

Sloppy Word Choice Isn’t Only A Literary Sin

Good writing is all handmade. It’s made of words. Looking up words as you write is a vital step in research. A word choice isn’t apt merely because a word’s formal definition seems to fit. Words are layered with meaning, and the layers need to fit as well. If you write “the final solution to our problem” unaware that “final solution” translates the Nazi euphemism for the Holocaust, die Endlösung; if you write “a supercilious handshake” unaware that “supercilious” derives from Latin words meaning “above the eyelid” (i.e., with a lifted eyebrow), you communicate more and less to your reader than you intend. Sloppy word choice isn’t only a literary sin; it’s confusing. If you choose words with their multileveled meanings in mind, your reader will have a better chance of understanding what you mean—and so will you.

RICHARD RHODES

Saturday
Aug052017

Don’t Make Stuff Because You Want to Make Money

Every single day, I get emails from aspiring writers asking my advice about how to become a writer, and here is the only advice I can give: Don’t make stuff because you want to make money — it will never make you enough money. And don’t make stuff because you want to get famous — because you will never feel famous enough. Make gifts for people — and work hard on making those gifts in the hope that those people will notice and like the gifts.

JOHN GREEN

Friday
Aug042017

Surprise Yourself

If you only write what you’re expecting to write, you’ll be bored. Take a risk. Work against the grain. Don’t be afraid to make a deathbed scene comic, or to show a murderer being kind to animals. Truth is surprising, and surprise is the key – surprising the reader but also, in the first place, surprising yourself.

BLAKE MORRISON

Friday
Aug042017

Surprise Yourself

If you only write what you’re expecting to write, you’ll be bored. Take a risk. Work against the grain. Don’t be afraid to make a deathbed scene comic, or to show a murderer being kind to animals. Truth is surprising, and surprise is the key – surprising the reader but also, in the first place, surprising yourself.

BLAKE MORRISON

Thursday
Aug032017

Revise, Revise, Revise

Revise, revise, revise. I cannot stress this enough. Revision is when you do what you should have done the first time, but didn’t. It’s like washing the dishes two days later instead of right after you finish eating. Get that draft counter going. Remove a comma and then print out another copy — that’s another draft right there. Do this enough times and you can really get those numbers up, which will come in handy if someone challenges you to a draft-off. When the ref blows the whistle and your opponent goes, “26 drafts!,” you’ll bust out with “216!” and send ’em to the mat.

COLSON WHITEHEAD

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