Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Books on Writing

There are probably as many ways to write as there are writers and I'm just going to take the easy route and say they are all the right way to do it. However, different pieces of writerly advise have been more relavant to me and my writing. Here are some of the books that I have found helpful.

On Becoming a Novelist -by John Gardner

I love that this is not a how to book. It doesn't even focus on the craft of writing itself very much. It contemplates why someone would want to be a writer, whether they should, whether they have any chance, John Gardner's own experience with writing and his experiences with young writers. Plus its John Gardner. The prose is pure poetry.

Zen in the Art of Writing -by Ray Bradbury

I am sort of a diehard Bradbury fan. The odd thing is I was introduced to his writing through his essays on writing rather than the other way around. I came across this book and connected with it, thought he sounded like he might know what he was talking about but wanted to make sure his writing was decent before I bought into it. It was. More than decent actually.

The Modern Library's Writer's Workshop:a Guide to the Craft of Fiction -by Stephen Koch

I don't usually condone writing "methods" (That is if a method works for you by all means use it but I don't condone it as a difinative process that should never be strayed from) However if there were a method I used this book pretty much describes it. With the exception of the fast first draft. I tend to write really slowly the first time around.

How To Become a Famous Author Before You're Dead -by Ariel Gore

I hesitate to include this book because 1)I'm not sure that I would want to be a famous author. I think I would settle for one that got paid. and 2) I'm not a famous author and therefore couldn't say for certain if Ariel Gore's advice is sound. Still, what this book awakened for me was the knowledge that I didn't have to sit around waiting for an editor or agent to give me his blessing before I am a writer. I am a writer now and there are other avenues available (like blogs and zines) that allow me to offer what I have say to the world now. Ironically I don't feel the need to be published as strongly as I used to.


Even if its not your work being discussed it is always worthwhile to listen to people pick apart a piece of writing. Even if you decide that no one knows what they are talking about in order to make that conclusion you have to think about why they are all wrong which will lead to a stronger understanding of the craft.

You're writing is different than mine. Maybe these books won't help you. Still, maybe they will.


  1. An interesting list of books! I haven't read any of them, but I'd be tempted to pick a few up now...especially Ray Bradbury's.

  2. I didn't realize Ray Bradbury had a writing book! I put it on my TBR - thanks! (I'm a die hard fan too)