Friday, November 12, 2010

Four Great Books to Improve Your Prose!

Writing is fun and easy...Good writing takes work....a lot of work!

I’m posting this because I’m so stoked about everything I’ve learned about writing in the last year that I want to share it with you (Yes, I've been doing a lot of reading along with my writing). And if you’re a writer or want to write, you’ll want to pay attention! So, are you paying attention? Good, because what I'm about to tell you can make you a better writer, I promise.
In keeping with that promise, I have a preface, and that is...if you want to write good fiction, you have to educate yourself and study the craft of writing. Although I write suspense, I am currently reading Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte.

 To begin with, good writing starts with reading lots of good literature and writing lots of words, but that's another post all together and it's covered in lots of other blogs, so I won't rant about writing and reading. I will, however, tell you about four books that I've read that have improved my prose ten fold (in my opinion). They are as follows: On Writing by Stephen King, Revision and Self-Editing by James Scott Bell, Writing like the Masters by William Cane, and On Writing Horror by The Horror Writer’s Association (You don’t need to write horror to benefit from this one). These are all excellent books and I’ll tell you why. So if you write, you’ll want to get these books. I'm sure there are others and I'd like to know about them, but I read these and I think they're a great place to start.

  • The first book that I read about writing was suggested to me by my first editor Jodie Renner: Revision and Self-Editing, by James Scott Bell. I hear you...revision... boring! Well, actually, it is not as boring as it sounds. James does a great job teaching many of the common mistakes writers make and how to clean up your manuscript all by yourself. This is a must read if you have written a manuscript that needs a little TLC or not.

  • The next book on my hit list is On Writing by Stephen King. First of's by Stephen King! What more is there to say? Like him or hate him, he's sold a lot of books and there are lots of good reasons why. On Writing covers much of his writing process and the things you should avoid stylistically, but the thing I loved the most about this book is hearing his story. That's right, this book is 1/3 autobiography, 2/3 education. And actually, the autobiography is an education in patience, and how the publishing business works. Very cool, especially if you're a King fan.

  • Another book I recommend is Writing like the Masters by William Cane. This book is will transform the way you look at your writing. It is more or less a study of the methods and styles of all the great authors of modernity, and teaches what the masters did/do that makes/made them great. Cane covers the whole gamut of masters from Faulkner to Balzak, from Dickens to Hemingway, and Bradbury and Orwell and Melville to King. He covers every style and genre and teaches exactly what each one does/did that made/makes their writing unique. This book will teach you how to integrate their methods into your own unique voice and give you an appreciation for the classics. If you hate classic literature, you could potentially hate this book. However, if you love writing, you will learn to like the classics after reading this. I'll be the first to admit that I never heard of Balzac or Dostoevsky before I read this, but I've read them now and appreciate each one. You will too!

  • Finally, I want you to know about On Writing Horror by The Horror Writer's Association. Believe it or not, this hidden jem was tucked away deep in the literary mine of my local library, but I dug it up, brushed off the dust and couldn't put it down. Don't let the title scare you! This book is anything but horrifying. It was written by over twenty top selling authors and editors and is bursting with great information and very specific techniques for improving your writing. After I return this book, I fully intend on purchasing it as a full time reference book; it's that good.

So there you have it; four great books that will make you a better writer. And if you think writing comes naturally for some of us, you may be right, but good writing takes a lot of work! BOOM!


  1. Have read Stephen King On Writing and the Horror Writers Association Book, both of which I found useful. Will check out the Masters book on your advice!

  2. Goblin,
    I learned a lot from it, even though it's non-genre specific. But who better to learn from...short-timers or masters who have passed the test of time? Thanks for reading and following. I'll recipricate.


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