Friday, August 19, 2011

Best Books on Writing

Hullo hullo!

It's time for a much-needed post, I think. I haven't been lazy, you should know, just busy writing, editing, and now querying Perfectly Pia. And the worst thing about querying is the waiting. Well, I guess it's not that bad, since it means I now have time to do some blogging.

Anyway, today I want to throw out two books to all you writers out there. If you've been writing for a while and frequently browse the writing section in your local Barnes & Noble, you'll recognise the titles. These are, in my opinion, the best two books on writing you could find. And any self-respecting would-be author should probably not write another sentence until these two books are thoroughly read. I did take a two-day break from writing to read them, and wish I'd read them years ago. They'll change the way you write and the way you think about writing in wonderful ways.

The first is the timeless classic The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White:

This glorious little tome is the remedy to weak or uninteresting prose. It's short, sweet,  unapologetic, and cuts to the bones of writing. Categorized into useful chapters and numbered rules, Elements is a quick read and an easy book to come back to for quick references, and pretty much any writer who is going to recommend to you the best book on writing is going to recommend this one. My favorite rule from Strunk: OMIT NEEDLESS WORDS. 'Nuff said.

Speaking of writers who recommend Elements, one of these has also written a fabulous book on writing called, well, On Writing.

The first section of this book is actually King's memoir, in which he focuses on the events in his life which made him the writer he is. You may be tempted to skip this section, since, after all, we're writers and barely have time to write, let alone read someone else's biography. But before you skip ahead to the good stuff, give the memoir a try. It'll suck you in, a tendency King seems to have in his writing. And often it's laugh-out-loud funny. Most of the book does deal with writing, and King's approach is the most humble, honest, and passionate I've seen from a writer talking about his craft. King has a unique and enviable way of making you feel like he's sitting across the table from you with a cup of coffee, just talkin', you know, bein' folks. His conversational tone is addictive and makes what looks like a massive book fly by in a couple of hours. I enjoyed every minute of On Writing, and know I'm a better writer for having taken the time to read it.

So my advice to you? Get them (borrow if you must, but I suggest buying so you can come back to them again and again), read them, and keep a highlighter very close to hand. You'll need it.


  1. Woah woah woah, is that Maira Kalman collaborating with Strunk and White? I did not know that existed, and now my determination to read Elements of Style has reached a new high.

  2. Yes! It's the illustrated edition and I love all the whimsical illustrations.

  3. Great recommendations! I have both of these books.

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