If you've ever tried to write something, you know how hard it can be. Luckily there are some amazing books out there to help through every step of the process, whether you're following in the footsteps of Ray Bradbury or eager to chronicle your experiences of parenthood. Below is a selection of the best books on the craft of writing, as chosen by Book Passage's staff.
What do we mean when we say that someone is a writer? Is he or she an entertainer? A high priest of the god Art? An improver of readers' minds and morals? And who, for that matter, are these myserious readers? In this wise and irressisbly quotable book, Margaret Atwood addresses the riddle of her art: why people pursue it, how they view their calling, and what bargains they make with their audience. She brings a candid appraisal of her own experience, as well as a breadth of reading that encompasses verything from Dante to Elmore Leonard. Negotiating with the Dead is an inside view of the writer's universe.
"Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a land mine. The land mine is me. After the explosion, I spend the rest of the day putting the pieces back together. Now, it's your. Jump!"
Zest. Gusto. Curiosity. These are the qualities every writer needs, as well as a spirit of adventure. In this exuberant booko, the incomporable Ray Bradbury shares the widsom, experience, and excitement of a lifetime of writing. Here are practical tips on the art of writing on everything--from finding origina ideas to developing your own voice and style. It's the inside story of Bradbury's remarkable careeer as a prolific author of novels, stories, poems, films, and plays.
In May 2012, bestselling author Neil Gaiman delivered the commencement address at Philadelphia's University of the Arts, in which he shared his thoughts about creativiity, bravery, and strength. He encouraged the fledgling painters, musiciains, writers, and dreamers to break rules and think outside the box. Most of all, he encouraged them to make good art. The book Make Good Art, designed by renowned graphic artist Chip Kidd, contains the full text of Gaiman's inspring speech.
This is a wonderfully useful and readable guide to the problems of the English language most commonly encountered by editors and writers. What is the difference between "immanent" and "imminent"? What is the singular form of "grafitti"? What is the difference between "acute" and "chronic"? One of the English language's most skilled writers provides a guide to precise, mistake-free usage, covering spelling, capitalization, plurals, hyphens, abbreviations, and foreign names and phrases. This is the book you will turn to when you care enough about the language not to maul, misuse, or contort it. And if you've never read Bryson's The Mother Tongue about the history of English, you must read it! (This is non-negotiable!)
Francise Prose does something wonderful in this book. Although it is ostensibly a guide for readers, it is really a very valuable book for writers. She takes well-written passages from various authors and analyzes them for rhythm, form, syntax, mood, and choice of words. After reading this, you will appreciate the correct choice of words for the mood of the story, the position of those words in each sentence, the length and texture of each sentence in a paragraph, and the impact of each paragraph in an essay or short work of fiction. In other words, she knows you everything you need to know to be a strong, creative work.
If you write, you know what it's like. Insight and creativiity - the desire to push the boundaries of your writing - strike when you least expect it. And you're often in no position to act: in the shower, driving the kids to school, in the middle of the night. The 3 A.M. Epiphany offers more than 200 intriguing writing exercises designed to help you think, write, and revise like never before - without having to wait for creative inspiration. Brian Kiteley, noted author and director of the University of Denver's creative writing program, has crafted and refined these exercises through 15 years of teaching experience.
David Corbett offers a unique toolkit for creating characters who will come to life on the page and linger in memoyr. He provides a blueprint to all the elelemnts of characterization - from initial inspiration to realization - with speciail insights into the power of secrets and contradictions, the embodiment of roles, managing the "tyranny of motive," and mastering crucial techniques required for memorable dialogue and unforgettable scenes.
"A deep inquiry into the creation of character for the novice writer, with valuable nuggets of wisdom for the seasoned storyteller. If you are a writer, it should be on your desk." -Jacqueline Winspear.
Connie Hale loves words, and she loves to see them used in an inspired fashion. Her goal in the revised and expanded editions of this popular book is to explain the rules of grammar and usage and then explain when a writer should happily ignore them. Correct grammar is important, but inspired, creative use of words is her ultimate goal. This is the book to read whenever someone tries to put a cap on your exuberance.
Barry and Goldmark provide aspiring authors insight to the book publishing industry. They reveal the truth behind getting signed, published, and staying out of the remainder bin.
"Write That Book Already! is the perfect companion to writer's angst, brimming with wise advise for all scribes, including myself."-Amy Tan
"Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said 'Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'"
That paragraph sets the tone for this influential book about writing. Highly recommended.
Part memoir, part master class, by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer's crat, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King's advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported near-fatal accident in 1999 - and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, frinedly, and inspirign, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it - fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.
"This is a special book, animated by a unique intelligence, and filled with useful truth." - Michael Chabon
We've had the privilege of watching Phil Cousineau at work, and it's clear to us that no one is better at firing up a writer's imaginaion. He's written several books that would benefit almost any writer, but this book is a good place to start. Divided into three parts - Inspiration, Perspiration, and Realization - Stroking the Creative Fires brings the reader full circle through the process of creation - from the initial impulse to finding the time and tapping into the source, to focus, to being disciplined, and to dealing with the fear of failure or the failure to rekindle one's resources, and finally to making it real - doing it over and over again and keeping the fires alive.
Words are one thing, but how about punctuation? This very practical book will get you thinking.
"The comma is the speed bump of the punctuation world ... Based on frequency alone, the comma wields tremendous influence, outnnumbering the period by at least three to one, and outnumbering other punctuation marks by at least five to one. And yet, paradoxically, it is the mark most open to interepretation. The comma has few hard rules, and as a result is the mark most often misused."
Written by pre-eminent travel writers and bursting with invaluable advice, this inspiring and practical guide is a must for anyone who has ever yearned to turn their travels into saleable tales. Packed with insider hints and tips, practical writing exercises, and examples of travel writing excellence, this guide helps bring the dream job of travel writer within scribbling distance. Includes contributors Andrew Bain, Tim Cahill, Paul Clammer, George Dunford, Pico Iyer, Rory Maclean, Daisann McLane, Danny Palmerlee, Margo Pfeiff, Rolf Potts, Alison Rice, Anthony Sattin, Stanley Stewart, and Mara Vorhees.
Just because you're not a trained medical examiner doesn't mean you can't learn your way around a crime scene. D.P. Lyle, an M.D. and TV show consultant, takes each area of forensics - from fingerprint analysis to crime scene reconstruction - and discusses its development, how it works, and how it helps in crime solving. Most importantly, he shows how writers can use this knowledge in crafting their mysteries. He includes real-life case files and the role forensic evidence played in solving those crimes. He also offers a breakdown of the forensics system from its history and organizatio to standard evidence classification and collection methods. Forensics is the ultimate resource for learning how to accurately imbue your stories with authentic details of untimely demises.
Written by 2014 Mystery Writers Conference faculty member Laurie R. King!