Learn How to Write!

I mean, I assume you know how to write. But that’s kinda different to being a good writer. The resources here helped me tremendously in my own growth toward that nebulous goal of gittin’ gud. Please note all book links are Amazon affiliate links.

Articles, Essays, and Freebies

How to Write Better Sentences by Daniel David Wallace – Does what it says on the tin: “A simple ten-part guide to writing really, really well.” You’ll need to sub to a mailing list, but Wallace’s is pretty decent.

On Fairy Stories by J. R. R. Tolkien – Can escapism be valuable? One WWI vet says… Maybe. News at eleven.

Politics and the English Language by George Orwell – On the importance of purposeful language-use.

The Four Types of Conversations by David W. Angel – For when how your characters say is more important than what they say (that is, always).

Books What Require Currency

How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster – Solid survey of symbolism that will serve you soundly in your search for skill.

Invisible Ink by Brian McDonald – If you only ever buy one more book on writing, let it be this one. The best explanation of literary theme you will ever read. See also McDonald’s expansion on the topic, The Golden Theme.

Letters to a Young Novelist by Mario Margas Llosa – The collective of quirky Tumblr writing tip lists crumbles beneath the behemoth that is this book. Not that this is a quirky book, or a list of tips, but read this and those lists will hold nothing for you again (assuming they do now).

Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool – A remarkable clarification of the so-called 10,000 hour rule, and examination of the mindset required to become excellent at anything. Caveat that the methods of deliberate and purposeful practice described in this book don’t make immediate intuitive sense for fiction writing, but the principles will nonetheless serve you well.

Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose – After Invisible Ink, if you only ever buy one more book on writing, let it be this one. Even if you are accustomed to active reading, Prose’s dissection of some of the greatest masters of the English language are well worth the read. See also Prose’s expansion on the topic, What to Read and Why.

The Art of Fiction by John Gardner – Some of Gardner’s advice is arguably outdated in the modern fiction environment, but at least as much will endure forever. Read for his obsession with character and the powerful worldview of a man who believed fiction is the strongest form of propaganda, a tool for justice and righteousness.