When you’re developing your writing skills, you can take potluck or dine with some of the craft’s top chefs. For those who want to learn from gourmet wordsmiths, here’s my menu of writing resources – starting with two by the man who’s been called “America’s writing coach”:
Appetizers to Nibble On
- The Art of X-Ray Reading: How the Secrets of 25 Great Works of Literature Will Improve Your Writing (Roy Peter Clark). Writing lessons from T.S. Eliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Vladimir Nabokov and other giants.
- How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times (Roy Peter Clark). The title says it all.
The Main Meal
- Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (Anne Lamott). From the importance of “shitty first drafts” to finding your voice (and an agent), thoughtful guidance on getting writing done.
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (Stephen King). The master of horror shares how he mastered (and is still mastering) the craft of writing.
Dessert: Sweet Ideas
- Track Down the Weasel Words: Writing Lessons from the Front (Angela Hunt). Eliminating useless words that suck the life out of your sentences, like a weasel sucks an egg.
Leftovers: Even Better When Served Again
- The Elements of Style (William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White). Strunk and White’s thin little classic is packed with essential advice on grammar, word choice, structure and other language matters. Their best advice: “Omit needless words.”
Midnight Snacks: Tidbits to Taste
- Eats, Shoots & Leaves: the Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (Lynn Truss). Can punctuation be fun? Yes, the way Truss approaches it.
- The Elephants of Style: A Trunkload of Tips on the Big Issues and Gray Areas of Contemporary American English (Bill Walsh). A witty and often wicked take on language. Bets chapters: “Lies Your English Teacher Told You” and “Cover Your S.”
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