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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 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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    Making a Literary Life
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    New Grub Street (Broadview Editions)
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    Nonconformity
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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
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    The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative
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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
    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
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    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
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    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
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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 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

Friday
Aug012014

Fiction is Democratic

What we call fiction is the ancient way of knowing, the total discourse that antedates all the special vocabularies.... Fiction is democratic, it reasserts the authority of the single mind to make and remake the world.

E.L. DOCTOROW

Thursday
Jul312014

Writing Is A Performance

The first and perhaps the most important requirement for a successful writing performance—and writing is a performance, like singing an aria or dancing a jig—is to understand the nature of the occasion.

STEPHEN GREENBLATT

Wednesday
Jul302014

A Writer's Brain

A writer’s brain is full of little gifts, like a piñata at a birthday party. It’s also full of demons, like a piñata at a birthday party in a mental hospital. The truth is, it’s demons that keep a tortured writer’s spirit alive, not Tootsie Rolls. Sure they’ll give you a tiny burst of energy, but they won’t do squat for your writing. So treat your demons with the respect they deserve, and with enough prescriptions to keep you wearing pants.

COLIN NISSAN

Tuesday
Jul292014

Creative Incubation

You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.

JOSEPH CAMPBELL

Monday
Jul282014

Writing Was Not Meant to Be An Esoteric Secret

Every writer’s assumption is that he is as other human beings are, and that they are more or less as he is. There’s a principle of psychic unity. [Writing] was not meant to be an occult operation; it was not meant to be an esoteric secret.

SAUL BELLOW

Sunday
Jul272014

Move On

One of the great writer’s myths is the one about papering the walls with rejection slips. There are stories of proposals and manuscripts that were rejected twenty-five or thirty times and went on to become published books and even, in rare case, bestsellers. But these stories are so exceptional that when they do happen they immediately become part of publishing lore.

     Part of playing the publisher’s game is knowing when you have lost. If you have been flatly rejected by ten well-chosen editors then you will almost certainly be turned down by the next hundred. It would be far better to spend your time rethinking your idea, reworking your proposal, or maybe even abandoning that particular idea and moving on to something else.

JOHN BOSWELL

Saturday
Jul262014

Writing Is Like Sculpture

Writing is not like painting where you add. It is not what you put on the canvas that the reader sees. Writing is more like a sculpture where you remove, you eliminate in order to make the work visible. Even those pages you remove somehow remain.

ELIE WIESEL

Friday
Jul252014

Diana Athill’s 3 Rules for Fiction

1. Read it aloud to yourself because that's the only way to be sure the rhythms of the sentences are OK (prose rhythms are too complex and subtle to be thought out – they can be got right only by ear).

2. Cut (perhaps that should be CUT): only by having no inessential words can every essential word be made to count.

3. You don't always have to go so far as to murder your darlings – those turns of phrase or images of which you felt extra proud when they appeared on the page – but go back and look at them with a very beady eye. Almost always it turns out that they'd be better dead. (Not every little twinge of satisfaction is suspect – it's the ones which amount to a sort of smug glee you must watch out for.)

Thursday
Jul242014

Don't Dress Up Your Vocabulary

One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you’re maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones.

STEPHEN KING

Wednesday
Jul232014

Don't Quit

Don’t quit. It’s very easy to quit during the first 10 years. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.

ANDRE DUBUS

Tuesday
Jul222014

Finish Your First Draft

The best advice on writing was given to me by my first editor, Michael Korda, of Simon and Schuster, while writing my first book. "Finish your first draft and then we'll talk," he said. It took me a long time to realize how good the advice was. Even if you write it wrong, write and finish your first draft. Only then, when you have a flawed whole, do you know what you have to fix.

DOMINICK DUNNE

Monday
Jul212014

That vs. Which

That is the defining, or restrictive pronoun, which is the nondefining, or nonrestrictive. . . .

The lawn mower that is broken is in the garage. (Tells which one)

The lawn mower, which is broken, is in the garage. (Adds a fact about the only lawn mower in question)

The use of which for that is common and written and spoken language (“Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass.”) Occasionally which seems preferable to that, as in the sentence from the Bible. But it would be a convenience to all if these two pronouns were used with precision. The careful writer, watchful for small conveniences, goes which-hunting, removes the defining whiches, and by so doing improves his work.

William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White


Sunday
Jul202014

Value Your Characters

When I first started writing plays I couldn’t write good dialogue because I didn’t respect how black people talked. I thought that in order to make art out of their dialogue I had to change it, make it into something different. Once I learned to value and respect my characters, I could really hear them. I let them start talking.

AUGUST WILSON

Saturday
Jul192014

You Are Always Bad Before You Can Get a Little Better

I have so little control over the act of writing that it's all I can do to remain conscious. Actual formal considerations are almost beyond my capacity. Before I sat down and became a writer, before I began to do it habitually and for my living, there was a decades-long stretch when I was terrified that it would suck, so I didn't write. I think that marks a lot of people, a real terror at being bad at something, and unfortunately you are always bad before you can get a little better.

DAVID RAKOFF

Friday
Jul182014

Limit Your Vocabulary

Upon mature consideration I advise you to go no farther with your vocabulary. If you have a lot of words they will become like some muscle you have developed that you are compelled to use, and you must use this one in expressing yourself or in criticizing others. It is hard to say who will punish you the most for this, the dumb people who don't know what you are talking about or the learned ones who do. But wallop you they will and you will be forced to confine yourself to pen and paper.

Then you will be a writer and may God have mercy on your soul.

No! A thousand times no! Far, far better confine yourself to a few simple expressions in life, the ones that served billions upon countless billions of our forefathers and still serve admirably all but a tiny handful of those at present clinging to the earth's crust...

So forget all that has hitherto attracted you in our complicated system of grunts and go back to those fundamental ones that have stood the test of time.

F. SCOTT FITZGERALD, in a letter to Andrew Turnbull

Thursday
Jul172014

Cut Like Crazy

Cut like crazy. Less is more. I've often read manuscripts–including my own–where I've got to the beginning of, say, chapter two and have thought: "This is where the novel should actually start." A huge amount of information about character and backstory can be conveyed through small detail. The emotional attachment you feel to a scene or a chapter will fade as you move on to other stories. Be business-like about it.

SARAH WATERS

Wednesday
Jul162014

Murder Your Darlings

Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it — whole-heartedly — and delete it before sending your manuscript to press: Murder your darlings.

SIR ARTHUR QUILLER-COUCH

Tuesday
Jul152014

Don't Write What You Know

One of the dumbest things you were ever taught was to write what you know. Because what you know is usually dull. Remember when you first wanted to be a writer? Eight or 10 years old, reading about thin-lipped heroes flying over mysterious viny jungles toward untold wonders? That’s what you wanted to write about, about what you didn’t know. So. What mysterious time and place don’t we know?

KEN KESEY

Monday
Jul142014

Forget Your Personal Tragedy

Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched form the start and you especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt use it—don’t cheat with it. Be as faithful to it as a scientist—but don’t think anything is of any importance because it happens to you or anyone belonging to you.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY, in a letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald

Sunday
Jul132014

Dream Your Idea Into Being

When an idea comes, spend silent time with it. Remember Keats's idea of Negative Capability and Kipling's advice to "drift, wait and obey." Along with your gathering of hard data, allow yourself also to dream your idea into being.

ROSE TREMAIN

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