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Recommended Books
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    Adventures in the Screen Trade
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    Letters to a Young Poet: Translated and with a Foreword By Stephen Mitchell
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    Making a Literary Life
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    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
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    Poetic Meter and Poetic Form
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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 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
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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
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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
    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

Friday
Mar012013

Beware of Writers Who Tell You How Hard They Work

Beware of writers who tell you how hard they work. (Beware of anybody who tries to tell you that.) Writing is indeed often dark and lonely, but no one really has to do it. Yes, writing can be complicated, exhausting, isolating, abstracting, boring, dulling, briefly exhilarating; it can be made to be grueling and demoralizing. And occasionally it can produce rewards. But it's never as hard as, say, piloting an L-1011 into O'Hare on a snowy night in January, or doing brain surgery when you have to stand up for 10 hours straight, and once you start you can't just stop. If you're a writer, you can stop anywhere, any time, and no one will care or ever know. Plus, the results might be better if you do.

RICHARD FORD

Thursday
Feb282013

A Writer Can Begin Anywhere

Somewhere in his journals Dostoyevsky remarks that a writer can begin anywhere, at the most commonplace thing, scratch around in it long enough, pray and dig away long enough, and lo! soon he will hit upon the marvelous.

SAUL BELLOW

Wednesday
Feb272013

“Very” is the Most Useless Word in the English Language

“Very” is the most useless word in the English language and can always come out. More than useless, it is treacherous because it invariably weakens what it is intended to strengthen. For example, would you rather hear the mincing shallowness of “I love you very much” or the heart-slamming intensity of “I love you”?

FLORENCE KING

Tuesday
Feb262013

Every Writer Is A Thief

I have myself always been terrified of plagiarism—of being accused of it, that is. Every writer is a thief, though some of us are more clever than others at disguising our robberies. The reason writers are such slow readers is that we are ceaselessly searching for things we can steal and then pass off as our own: a natty bit of syntax, a seamless transition, a metaphor that jumps to its target like an arrow shot from an aluminum crossbow.

JOSEPH EPSTEIN

Monday
Feb252013

A Novel is Made of Details

The best research gets your fingers dusty and your shoes dirty, especially because a novel is made of details. I had to know what a place smelled like, what it sounded like.

BARBARA KINGSOLVER

Sunday
Feb242013

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

Saturday
Feb232013

Increase Your Word Power

Increase your word power. Words are the raw material of our craft. The greater your vocabulary the more effective your writing. We who write in English are fortunate to have the richest and most versatile language in the world. Respect it.

P.D. JAMES

Friday
Feb222013

Writing is Hard

Writing is hard. That’s why so few people stick to it and actually finish things. And why you have a right to be immensely proud when you finish something.

ANDY IHNATKO

Thursday
Feb212013

Start Writing Today

Write. Start writing today. Start writing right now. Don’t write it right, just write it –and then make it right later. Give yourself the mental freedom to enjoy the process, because the process of writing is a long one. Be wary of “writing rules” and advice. Do it your way. 

TARA MOSS

Wednesday
Feb202013

There's No Free Lunch

You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there's no free lunch. Writing is work. It's also gambling. You don't get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but ­essentially you're on your own. Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don't whine.

MARGARET ATWOOD

Tuesday
Feb192013

Use the Landscape

Use the landscape. Always tell us where we are. And don’t just tell us where something is, make it pay off. Use description of landscape to help you establish the emotional tone of the scene. Keep notes of how other authors establish mood and foreshadow events by describing the world around the character. Look at the openings of Fitzgerald stories, and Graham Greene, they’re great at this.

JANET FITCH

Monday
Feb182013

All Writing Problems Are Psychological

All writing problems are psychological problems. Blocks usually stem from the fear of being judged. If you imagine the world listening, you’ll never write a line. That’s why privacy is so important. You should write first drafts as if they will never be shown to anyone.

ERICA JONG

Sunday
Feb172013

Don't Think of Literary Form

Don’t think of literary form. Let it get out as it wants to. Overtell it in the matter of detail—cutting comes later. The form will develop in the telling. Don’t make the telling follow the form.

JOHN STEINBECK

Saturday
Feb162013

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

Friday
Feb152013

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

Thursday
Feb142013

Language is Need, Thought, Feeling, and Perception Itself

Language is not the lowborn, gawky servant of thought and feeling; it is need, thought, feeling, and perception itself. The shape of sentences, the song in its syllables, the rhythm of its movement, is the movement of the imagination.

WILLIAM H. GASS

Wednesday
Feb132013

The Storytelling Ability

Part of the storytelling ability is simply the anticipation of boredom and the introduction of a sudden surprise. To be a good storyteller you need to have first internalized the audience: that subvocal groan that says, “Okay, get on with it.” Not that you always have to cater to the audience’s expectations: you can cross them up, frustrate them, prolong their tension, though that too can be a way of entertaining them. In any case, you have to be aware of their demands, whether you satisfy them or not.

PHILLIP LOPATE

Tuesday
Feb122013

Dialogue Should Be Brief

1. Dialogue should be brief.

2. It should add to the reader’s present knowledge.

3. It should eliminate the routine exchanges of ordinary conversation.

4. It should convey a sense of spontaneity but eliminate the repetitiveness of real talk.

5. It should keep the story moving forward.

6. It should be revelatory of the speaker’s character, both directly and indirectly.

7. It should show the relationships among people.

ELIZABETH BOWEN

Monday
Feb112013

You Can't Learn to Write in College

You can’t learn to write in college. It’s a very bad place for writers because the teachers always think they know more than you do—and they don’t. They have prejudices. They may like Henry James, but what if you don’t want to write like Henry James? They may like John Irving, for instance, who’s the bore of all time. A lot of the people whose work they’ve taught in the schools for the last thirty years, I can’t understand why people read them and why they are taught.

RAY BRADBURY

Sunday
Feb102013

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