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  1. Jaksken

    Jaksken New Member

    Mar 2, 2010
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    A good book to teach concepts of writing?

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Jaksken, Dec 6, 2010.

    I'm going to the book-store tomorrow and was wondering if any of you could recommend a good book that can give me some pointers and tips about writing whether it be short stories or a novella. Maybe something like How to Write for Dummies kinda thing.

  2. Mallory

    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

    Jun 27, 2010
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    Tampa Bay
    The Everything Creative Writing Book by Carol Whitely. Or, look for something that has a list of rhetorical devices and how to use them. For stuff like short/long sentences and how you can use sentence structure to create a tone, active/passive voice, satire techniques, etc.
  3. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 19, 2007
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    Massachusetts, USA
    Strunk and White's The Elements of Style. Every writer should have a copy, and it should be in Very Used condition.

    But in general, your best bet isn't How To books. Your best bet is to read tons of good fiction - literally tons. Pay attention to how other authors are effectivem and where they fall short.

    That, and practice writing. Keep all of it, and observe your own writing's evolution.

    There are no shortcuts.
  4. HeinleinFan

    HeinleinFan Banned

    Jan 6, 2007
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    Several books and links have proven helpful over the years.

    First, David Gerrold's Worlds of Wonder: How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy got me started -- I received it as a birthday present in 6th grade and quickly devoured it. Although it focuses on speculative fiction, it also covers the basics of dialogue, description, characterization, conflict and use of metaphors and similes.

    Second, Strunk & White's The Elements of Style. I re-read this one about once a year. It's short and useful for writing in general, not just for fiction writing.

    Third, Limyaael's rants. Just Google "list of Limyaael's Rants" without the quotes and you'll get there. She does focus on speculative fiction, but there are numerous excellent mini-essays regarding characterization, betrayals, switching narrators and POV, setting, customs, attention to detail, quiet moments, high action scenes, and how to make anti-heroes.

    Fourth, Stephen King's On Writing is good, and is a perfect example of how a newbie writer can get better and better over time as long as they keep writing.

    Fifth, especially for professional writers or people who would like to write full time as a job, I recommend Kris Rusch's The Freelancer's Guide, which is an invaluable resource for those of us who'd like to do this as a career. She talks about taxes, saving money, planning for setbacks, setting a schedule, the importance of insurance, and other things that are easy to overlook even if you're careful. Plus, most of the chapters are available for free at kriswrites.com, so you don't even have the "I'm broke and have no money" excuse.

    A couple others of less import that are still useful:
    DW Smith's Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing, available at deanwesleysmith.com, which talks about how to set yourself up financially when dealing with agents. (There aren't any tests or oversight committees dealing with agents, so it's good to know to do things like have copies of paperwork sent both to you and to the agent, in case you're unlucky enough enough to have to deal with an incompetant or a scammer. Having the publisher send the agent's 15% directly to the agent and the other 85% directly to you insures you against unscrupulous agents who might, ah, "forget" to send your money or royalty statements along. )

    John Scalzi has a book of writing advice essays out. I've read the first seven chapters and thought they were useful, but I don't have the book with me.
  5. TobiasJames

    TobiasJames Contributing Member

    Aug 3, 2010
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    Beginnings, Middles and Ends by Nancy Kress: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0898799058/?tag=postedlinks-21

    This is my most-consulted "How To" book. It's written in accessible language and covers a broad overview of all elements of writing, with particular focus on plot and structure.
  6. Jonalexher

    Jonalexher Contributing Member

    Nov 22, 2010
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    Some of the above must be good choices, as well. Haven't picked them up though, so I can't say.

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