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Recommended Books
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  • Adventures in the Screen Trade
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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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  • Aspects of the Novel
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  • Becoming a Writer
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  • Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
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  • Booknotes: America's Finest Authors on Reading, Writing, and the Power of Ideas
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  • The Careful Writer
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  • The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear
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  • The Craft of Fiction
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  • The Editor's Lexicon: Essential Writing Terms for Novelists
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  • The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition
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  • How Fiction Works
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  • How to Get Happily Published
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  • How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy (Genre Writing)
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  • How To Write Short Stories: With Samples
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  • If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit
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  • Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir
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    Making a Literary Life
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  • Master Class: Scenes from a Fiction Workshop
    Master Class: Scenes from a Fiction Workshop
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    New Grub Street (Broadview Editions)
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    Nonconformity
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    The Oxford Dictionary of Allusions (Oxford Paperback Reference)
    Oxford University Press, USA
  • Poetic Meter and Poetic Form
    Poetic Meter and Poetic Form
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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
    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
  • 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
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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
  • 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

Saturday
May102014

Prefer the Familiar Word to the Far-fetched

Prefer the familiar word to the far-fetched. Prefer the concrete word to the abstract. Prefer the single word to the circumlocution. Prefer the short word to the long. Prefer the Saxon word to the Romance.

HENRY WATSON FOWLER

Friday
May092014

Trust Your Reader

Trust your reader. Not everything needs to be explained. If you really know something, and breathe life into it, they'll know it too.

ESTHER FREUD

Thursday
May082014

Respect Your Characters

Respect your characters, even the ­minor ones. In art, as in life, everyone is the hero of their own particular story; it is worth thinking about what your minor characters' stories are, even though they may intersect only slightly with your protagonist's.

SARAH WATERS

Wednesday
May072014

Work Inspires Inspiration

Work inspires inspiration. Keep working. If you succeed, keep working. If you fail, keep working. If you’re interested, keep working. If you’re bored, keep working.

MICHAEL CRICHTON

Tuesday
May062014

It's All for Clarity

I would imagine that most writers revise, one way or another. Maybe they don’t revise as extensively on paper, but 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
May052014

Geoff Dyer’s Rules for Writers

1. Never worry about the commercial possibilities of a project. That stuff is for agents and editors to fret over – or not. Conversation with my American publisher. Me: "I'm writing a book so boring, of such limited commercial appeal, that if you publish it, it will probably cost you your job." Publisher: "That's exactly what makes me want to stay in my job."

2. Don't write in public places. In the early 1990s I went to live in Paris. The usual writerly reasons: back then, if you were caught writing in a pub in England, you could get your head kicked in, whereas in Paris, dans les cafés . . . Since then I've developed an aversion to writing in public. I now think it should be done only in private, like any other lavatorial activity.

3. Don't be one of those writers who sentence themselves to a lifetime of sucking up to Nabokov.

4. If you use a computer, constantly refine and expand your autocorrect settings. The only reason I stay loyal to my piece-of-shit computer is that I have invested so much ingenuity into building one of the great auto­correct files in literary history. Perfectly formed and spelt words emerge from a few brief keystrokes: "Niet" becomes "Nietzsche", "phoy" becomes  ­"photography" and so on. ­Genius!

5. Keep a diary. The biggest regret of my writing life is that I have never kept a journal or a diary.

6. Have regrets. They are fuel. On the page they flare into desire.

7. Have more than one idea on the go at any one time. If it's a choice between writing a book and doing nothing I will always choose the latter. It's only if I have an idea for two books that I choose one rather than the other. I ­always have to feel that I'm bunking off from something.

8. Beware of clichés. Not just the ­clichés that Martin Amis is at war with. There are clichés of response as well as expression. There are clichés of observation and of thought – even of conception. Many novels, even quite a few adequately written ones, are ­clichés of form which conform to clichés of expectation.

9. Do it every day. Make a habit of putting your observations into words and gradually this will become instinct. This is the most important rule of all and, naturally, I don't follow it.

10. Never ride a bike with the brakes on. If something is proving too difficult, give up and do something else. Try to live without resort to per­severance. But writing is all about perseverance. You've got to stick at it. In my 30s I used to go to the gym even though I hated it. The purpose of going to the gym was to postpone the day when I would stop going. That's what writing is to me: a way of postponing the day when I won't do it any more, the day when I will sink into a depression so profound it will be indistinguishable from perfect bliss.

Sunday
May042014

Words Can Be Comets

These letters and syllables we play with are like the gritty heads of comets—miniscule in mass, but vivid in the luminescence that surrounds them. Why does a comet have a fiery tail? From the impact of plasma as it nears the sun.  At the outer reaches of its orbit, a comet is a cold, sluggish conglomerate of interplanetary gravel. But then it plunges toward the light, to contest its speed with the field of the sun that locks it in a long ellipse. The stony nucleus stirs to life, whipped around the sun by the lash of gravity. Words can be comets, carrying bright clouds of context, signaling to us with a glow of multiple meanings. They splay out from the near weightless nucleus of syllables, challenged by a force field of ideas, made radiant by the impact of thought. Leaf through the bulk of today’s mail: drab constellations of expected and smog-dimmed stars. Why not write in letters of fire? We need events in our literary sky. Astonish us with the coming of a comet.

ROBERT E. LEE and LUCY LEE

Saturday
May032014

Whom Are You Writing For?

It comes back to the question, whom are you writing for? Who are the readers you want? Who are the people you want to engage with the things that matter most to you? And for me, it's people who don't need it all spelled out because they know it, they understand it. That's why there's so much I can't read because I get so exasperated. Someone starts describing the character boarding the plane and pulling the seat back. And I just want to say, Babe, I have been downtown. I have been up in a plane. Give me some credit.

AMY HEMPEL

Friday
May022014

Writing is Like Walking Through A Desert

I have never felt like I was creating anything. For me, writing is like walking through a desert and all at once, poking up through the hardpan, I see the top of a chimney. I know there’s a house under there, and I’m pretty sure that I can dig it up if I want. That’s how I feel. It’s like the stories are already there. What they pay me for is the leap of faith that says: ‘If I sit down and do this, everything will come out OK.

STEPHEN KING

Thursday
May012014

Billy Wilder's Rules for Screenwriters

 

1. The audience is fickle.


2. Grab 'em by the throat and never let 'em go.


3. Develop a clean line of action for your leading character.


4. Know where you’re going.


5. The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points, the better you are as a writer.


6. If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act.


7. A tip from Lubitsch: Let the audience add up two plus two. They’ll love you forever.


8. In doing voice-overs, be careful not to describe what the audience already sees. Add to what they’re seeing.


9. The event that occurs at the second act curtain triggers the end of the movie.


10. The third act must build, build, build in tempo and action until the last event, and then—that’s it. Don’t hang around.

Wednesday
Apr302014

Don't Think

Don't think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can't try to do things. You simply must do things.

RAY BRADBURY

Tuesday
Apr292014

Nothing Can Break the Mood Like Bad Dialogue

Nothing can break the mood of a piece of writing like bad dialogue. My students are miserable when they are reading an otherwise terrific story to the class and then hit a patch of dialogue that is so purple and expositional that it reads like something from a childhood play by the Gabor sisters. ... I can see the surprise on my students' faces, because the dialogue looked okay on paper, yet now it sounds as if it were poorly translated from their native Hindi.

ANNE LAMOTT

Monday
Apr282014

Think of Your Main Characters as Dinner Guests

Think of your main characters as dinner guests. Would your friends want to spend ten hours with the characters you’ve created? Your characters can be loveable, or they can be evil, but they’d better be compelling.

PO BRONSON

Sunday
Apr272014

Write As If You Were Dying

Write as if you were dying. At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That is, after all, the case. What would you begin writing if you knew you would die soon? What could you say to a dying person that would not enrage by its triviality?

ANNIE DILLARD

Saturday
Apr262014

Be Patient

If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don't just stick there scowling at the problem. But don't make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people's words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.

HILARY MANTEL

Friday
Apr252014

You Have To Let A Story Go

There’s always a point where you have to let a story go. Art isn’t finished, as many people before me have pointed out, only abandoned. And eventually you abandon your new child and hope that you’ll get it right next time, or the time after that, and you never do.

NEIL GAIMAN

Thursday
Apr242014

Writing Is A Kind of Double Living

Writing, I think, is not apart from living. Writing is a kind of double living. The writer experiences everything twice. Once in reality and once in that mirror which waits always before or behind.

CATHERINE DRINKER BOWEN

Wednesday
Apr232014

Writing is a Way to Talk About Yourself

Writing became a way for me to talk about myself—or a character—in a really personal, surprising manner without any embarrassment. I was brought up to be an incredibly nice person, but not everything I wanted to say was nice.

LOUISE ERDRICH

Tuesday
Apr222014

So Many Books, So Little Time

So many books, so little time. When I was young and thought I had plenty of time, I often reread old favorites from start to finish. But these days I reread only bits and pieces, looking for a vaguely remembered tone or mood, a voice, a way of structuring a scene, or in the case of nonfiction, factual details, that I can borrow or learn from for my own work.

RUSSELL BANKS

Monday
Apr212014

Start Writing Something

You can sit there, tense and worried, freezing the creative energies, or you can start writing something. It doesn’t matter what. In five or ten minutes, the imagination will heat, the tightness will fade, and a certain spirit and rhythm will take over.

LEONARD BERNSTEIN

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