To celebrate NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), HarperCollins has 10 writing technique and writing-related ebooks up for $1.99 each (for a limited time). I love writing technique books; I think they help us with our craft, help us to write better. I still buy and read them. So I recommend that if you write or want to write, you pick up some (or all) of these books at this low price. Of course, read a review or two to see if the book fits you.
Reading Like a Writer (P.S.)
by Francine Prose
Long before there were creative-writing workshops and degrees, how did aspiring writers learn to write? By reading the work of their predecessors and contemporaries, says Francine Prose.
In Reading Like a Writer , Prose invites you to sit by her side and take a guided tour of the tools and the tricks of the masters. She reads the work of the very best writers—Dostoyevsky, Flaubert, Kafka, Austen, Dickens, Woolf, Chekhov—and discovers why their work has endured. She takes pleasure in the long and magnificent sentences of Philip Roth and the breathtaking paragraphs of Isaac Babel; she is deeply moved by the brilliant characterization in George Eliot’s Middlemarch. She looks to John Le Carré for a lesson in how to advance plot through dialogue, to Flannery O’Connor for the cunning use of the telling detail, and to James Joyce and Katherine Mansfield for clever examples of how to employ gesture to create character. She cautions readers to slow down and pay attention to words, the raw material out of which literature is crafted.
Written with passion, humor, and wisdom, Reading Like a Writer will inspire readers to return to literature with a fresh eye and an eager heart.
Write Away: One Writer’s Approach to the Novel
by Elizabeth George
Here’s a useful book for the novice writer battling the fears and insecurities that attend when she contemplates her first novel. Highly successful as the writer of a dozen novels of suspense (A Place of Hiding, etc.) and a teacher with significant experience, George reveals that those same fears and insecurities still bedevil her. She quickly moves beyond that to a consideration of the craft of writing-mastering the tools and techniques that a writer needs in order to create art. While George illustrates her points with passages from both her own works and those of numerous writers she admires (Martin Cruz Smith, Barbara Kingsolver, Louise Erdrich, Michael Dorris), this remains more of a how-I-do-it book than a how-to-do-it book. Thus George will typically discuss an aspect of writing, such as creating the landscape of a novel, illustrate it with examples from various writers and then show how she approaches it. The result is an informative, instructive and idiosyncratic examination of the structure of the novel and of one writer’s rigorously disciplined approach to creating one. George makes clear that writing is a job and that mastering the tools and techniques of the craft can go a long way toward making a writer successful. Finally, she advocates self-discipline, or what Bryce Courtenay (The Power of One) calls “bum glue.” As George puts it, “A lot of writing is simply showing up… day after day, same time and same place.” Both aspiring writers and fans of George’s novels should enjoy the author’s insights into the creative process.
by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman
“What do you think of my fiction book writing?” the aspiring novelist extorted.
“Darn,” the editor hectored, in turn. “I can not publish your novel! It is full of what we in the business call ‘really awful writing.'”
“But how shall I absolve this dilemma? I have already read every tome available on how to write well and get published!” The writer tossed his head about, wildly.
“It might help,” opined the blonde editor, helpfully, “to ponder how NOT to write a novel, so you might avoid the very thing!”
Many writing books offer sound advice on how to write well. This is not one of those books. On the contrary, this is a collection of terrible, awkward, and laughably unreadable excerpts that will teach you what to avoid—at all costs—if you ever want your novel published.
In How Not to Write a Novel, authors Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman distill their 30 years combined experience in teaching, editing, writing, and reviewing fiction to bring you real advice from the other side of the query letter. Rather than telling you how or what to write, they identify the 200 most common mistakes unconsciously made by writers and teach you to recognize, avoid, and amend them. With hilarious “mis-examples” to demonstrate each manuscript-mangling error, they’ll help you troubleshoot your beginnings and endings, bad guys, love interests, style, jokes, perspective, voice, and more. As funny as it is useful, this essential how-NOT-to guide will help you get your manuscript out of the slush pile and into the bookstore.
For more than forty years, distinguished author Roger Rosenblatt has also been a teacher of writing, guiding students with the same intelligence and generosity he brings to the page, answering the difficult questions about what makes a story good, an essay shapely, a novel successful, and the most profound and essential question of them all—why write?
Unless It Moves the Human Heart details one semester in Rosenblatt’s “Writing Everything” class. In a series of funny, intimate conversations, a diverse group of students—from Inur, a young woman whose family is from Pakistan, to Sven, an ex–fighter pilot—grapples with the questions and subjects most important to narrative craft. Delving into their varied lives, Rosenblatt brings readers closer to them, emotionally investing us in their failures and triumphs.
More than a how-to for writers and aspiring writers, more than a memoir of teaching, Unless It Moves the Human Heart is a deeply felt and impassioned plea for the necessity of writing in our lives. As Rosenblatt wisely reminds us, “Writing is the cure for the disease of living. Doing it may sometimes feel like an escape from the world, but at its best moments it is an act of rescue.”
by Elizabeth Berg
The writer’s guide of the year, Escaping into the Open combines Elizabeth Berg’s very personal story of her journey from working mother to successful writer, with encouraging words on how to write straight from the heart. Filled with inspirational advice and sprinkled with stories of her own experience, as well as that of other writers, the book also provides helpful hints about what one needs to get started, effective techniques to unleash creativity, and ways to deal with rejection — and success — in the writer’s world. Escaping into the Open is full of warmth and encouragement and illuminating truths about the writing life.
by Richard Chodes
Uniquely fusing practical advice on writing with his own insights into the craft, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Rhodes constructs beautiful prose about the issues would-be writers are most afraid to articulate: How do I dare write? Where do I begin? What do I do with this story I have to tell that fills and breaks my heart? Rich with personal vignettes about Rhode’s sources of inspiration, How to Write is also a memoir of one of the most original and celebrated writers of our day.
by Elmore Leonard
“These are the rules I’ve picked up along the way to help me remain invisible when I’m writing a book, to help me show rather than tell what’s taking place in the story.”—Elmore Leonard
For aspiring writers and lovers of the written word, this concise guide breaks down the writing process with simplicity and clarity. From adjectives and exclamation points to dialect and hoopetedoodle, Elmore Leonard explains what to avoid, what to aspire to, and what to do when it sounds like “writing” (rewrite).
Beautifully designed, filled with free-flowing, elegant illustrations and specially priced, Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing is the perfect writer’s—and reader’s—gift.
by William Zinsser
On Writing Well has been praised for its sound advice, its clarity and the warmth of its style. It is a book for everybody who wants to learn how to write or who needs to do some writing to get through the day, as almost everybody does in the age of e-mail and the Internet. Whether you want to write about people or places, science and technology, business, sports, the arts or about yourself in the increasingly popular memoir genre, On Writing Well offers you fundamental priciples as well as the insights of a distinguished writer and teacher. With more than a million copies sole, this volume has stood the test of time and remains a valuable resource for writers and would-be writers.
by Annie Dillard
With color, irony and sensitivity, Pulitzer prize-winner Annie Dillard illuminates the dedication absurdity, and daring that is the writer’s life. As it probes and exposes, examines and analyzes, The Writing Life offers deeper insight into one of the most mysterious of professions.
Write for Your Life
by Lawrence Block
Based on Lawrence Block’s extremely popular seminar for writers. Discover Block’s tips for overcoming writer’s block and unleashing your creativity.