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Recommended Books
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  • APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book
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  • A Room of One's Own
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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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  • Booknotes: America's Finest Authors on Reading, Writing, and the Power of Ideas
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  • Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir
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    Nonconformity
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    The Paris Review Interviews, Vols. 1-4
    by The Paris Review
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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
    by Kitty Burns Florey
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    The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative
    by Vivian Gornick
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    The Sound on the Page: Great Writers Talk about Style and Voice in Writing
    by Ben Yagoda
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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
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    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

Sunday
Apr122015

Don’t Be Ashamed to Use the Thesaurus

Don’t be ashamed to use the thesaurus. I could spend all day reading Roget’s! There’s nothing better when you’re in a hurry and you need the right word right now.

SUSAN ORLEAN

Saturday
Apr112015

Good Writing is Coco Chanel's Little Black Dress

Good writing is Coco Chanel’s little black dress, but –ly­ adverbs are women who wear too much jewelry and pin flowers in their hair. I like to rip them, tear them, strip them off until there’s nothing left but sleek, chic verbs.

FLORENCE KING

Friday
Apr102015

Avoid Prologues

Avoid prologues. They can be annoying, especially a prologue following an introduction that comes after a foreword. But these are ordinarily found in nonfiction. A prologue in a novel is backstory, and you can drop it in anywhere you want.

ELMORE LEONARD

Thursday
Apr092015

Don't Look Back Until You've Written an Entire Draft

Don't look back until you've written an entire draft, just begin each day from the last sentence you wrote the preceding day. This prevents those cringing feelings, and means that you have a substantial body of work before you get down to the real work which is all in . . . the edit.

WILL SELF

Wednesday
Apr082015

Names Are Terribly Important

Names are terribly important. I spend forever coming up with names. Sometimes a character doesn’t work until I change his name. In Bandits, Frank Matusi didn’t work. I changed him to Jack Delaney and suddenly he opened up.

ELMORE LEONARD

Tuesday
Apr072015

Avoid Good Writing While Composing

It’s too disturbing to read a writer with a good style when you’re in the middle of putting your work together. It’s very much like taking your car apart and having all the pieces on the floor when somebody rides by in a Ferrari. Now, you may hear a note in the Ferrari that isn’t good and say, That motor needs a little tuning. But nonetheless the car is there and yours is on the floor. So while I’m working on a book, I rarely read more than The New York Times.

NORMAN MAILER

Monday
Apr062015

Memoirists Must Show and Tell

Memoir is the intersection of narration and reflection, of storytelling and essay writing. It can present its story and consider the meaning of the story. The first commandment of fiction—Show, Don’t Tell—is not part of the memoirist’s faith. Memoirists must show and tell.

PATRICIA HAMPL

Sunday
Apr052015

Your Protagonist Cannot Be Perfect

The protagonist of a play cannot be a perfect person. If he were, he could not improve, and he must come out at the end of the play a more admirable human being than he went in.

MAXWELL ANDERSON

Saturday
Apr042015

Cultivate Indifference to Both Praise and Blame

I would recommend the cultivation of extreme indifference to both praise and blame because praise will lead you to vanity, and blame will lead you to self-pity, and both are bad for writers.

JOHN BERRYMAN

Friday
Apr032015

Two Secrets for Young Writers

To young writers I give only two secrets that really exist...all the other hints of Rosetta Stones are jiggery-pokery. The two secrets are these:

     First, the most important book you can ever read, not only to prepare you as a writer, but to prepare you for life, is not the Bible or some handbook on syntax. It is the complete canon of Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

     The Holmes mysteries are nailed to the fixed point of logic and rational observation. They teach that ratiocination, and a denial of paralogia, go straight to the heart of Pasteur’s admonition that “Chance favors the prepared mind.” The more you know, the more unflinchingly you deny casual beliefs and Accepted Wisdom when it flies in the face of reality, the more carefully you observe the world and its people around you, the better chance you have of writing something meaningful and well-crafted.

     From Doyle’s stories an awakened intelligence can learn a system of rational behavior coupled with an ability to bring the process of deductive logic to bear on even the smallest measure of day-to-day existence. It works in life, and it works in art. We call it the writer’s eye. And that, melded to talent and composure, is what one can find in the work of every fine writer.

      The second secret, what they never tell you, is that yes, anyone can become a writer. Merely consider any novel by Judith Krantz and you’ll know it’s true. The trick is not to become a writer, it is to stay a writer. Day after day, year after year, book after book. And for that, you must keep working, even when it seems beyond you. In the words-to-live-by of Thomas Carlyle, “Produce!  Produce!  Were it but the pitifullest infinitesimal fraction of a Product, produce it in God’s name! ‘Tis the utmost thou has in thee: out with it, then. Up, up! Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy whole might.  Work while it is called Today; for the Night cometh, wherein no man can work.”

     All that, and learn the accurate meaning of “viable,” do not pronounce it noo-kew-ler, understand the difference between “in a moment” and “momentarily,” and don’t say “hopefully” when you mean “it is to be hoped” or “one hopes.” Because, for one last quotation, as Molly Haskell has written: “language: the one tool that enables us to grasp hold of our lives and transcend our fate by understanding it.”

HARLAN ELLISON

Thursday
Apr022015

Nice Writing Isn't Enough

Nice writing isn't enough. It isn't enough to have smooth and pretty language. You have to surprise the reader frequently, you can't just be nice all the time. Provoke the reader. Astonish the reader. Writing that has no surprises is as bland as oatmeal. Surprise the reader with the unexpected verb or adjective. Use one startling adjective per page.

ANNE BERNAYS

Wednesday
Apr012015

Be Daring

Be daring, take on anything. Don’t labor over little cameo works in which every word is to be perfect. Technique holds a reader from sentence to sentence, but only content will stay in his mind.

JOYCE CAROL OATES

Tuesday
Mar312015

The Real Metaphoric Formula

Metaphor is supposed to state the unknown in terms of the known. It is supposed to say X equals Y. Yet when we say “John is a lion,” we do not think of John with a mane, with four clawed paws, nor with a pompon tipped tail. We extract from “lion” the emotional equivalent we need and let the rest go. The real metaphoric formula is X does-and-does-not-equal Y.

JOHN CIARDI

Monday
Mar302015

You Must Attend to Words

The price of learning to use words is the development of an acute self-consciousness. Nor is it enough to pay attention to words only when you face the task of writing—that is like playing the violin only on the night of the concert. You must attend to words when you read, when you speak, when others speak. Words must become ever present in your waking life, an incessant concern, like color and design if the graphic arts matter to you, or pitch and rhythm if it is music, or speed and form if it is athletics.

JACQUES BARZUN

Sunday
Mar292015

How to Overcome Writer's Block

Writer’s block, how to overcome it: write something substantial every morning, and while doing so forget entirely the impression you’re creating. That is, overcome ego.

PAUL FUSSELL

Saturday
Mar282015

You Can't Tell Or Show Everything

You can’t tell or show everything within the compass of a book. If you try to tell or show everything, your reader will die of boredom before the end of the first page. You must, therefore, ask yourself what is the core of the matter you wish to communicate to your reader? Having decided on the core of the matter, all that you tell him must relate to it and illustrate it more and more vividly.

MORRIS L. WEST

Friday
Mar272015

What Good Writing Is

I’ve tried to figure out what good writing is. I know it when I read it in other people’s work or my own. The closest I’ve come is that there’s a rhythm to the writing, in the sentence and the paragraph. When the rhythm’s off, it’s hard to read the thing. It’s a lot like music in that sense; there’s an internal rhythm that does the work of reading for you. It almost reads itself. That’s one of the things that’s hard to teach to people. If you don’t hear music, you’re never going to hear it. That internal rhythm in a sentence or a paragraph, that’s the DNA of writing. That’s what good writing is.

SEBASTAIN JUNGER

Thursday
Mar262015

Keep A Diary

After suggesting [that young writers] look into The Writer's Chapbook I recommend they keep a diary, at least a page a day, and faithfully, and also to get into the habit of letter writing to other writers. The advantages that come with doing this seem obvious—both are exercises which hone the communicative skills.

GEORGE PLIMPTON

Wednesday
Mar252015

You Have to Sit Down and Work

It’s a job. It’s not a hobby. You don’t write the way you build a model airplane. You have to sit down and work, to schedule your time and stick to it. Even if it’s just for an hour or so each day, you have to get a babysitter and make the time. If you’re going to make writing succeed you have to approach it as a job.

ROSELLEN BROWN


Tuesday
Mar242015

Just Say, “he said, she said.”

Nouns, verbs, are the workhorses of language. Especially in dialogue, don’t say, “she said mincingly,” or “he said boisterously.” Just say, “he said, she said.”

JOHN P. MARQUAND

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