Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Right Writing Books

What are the writing books you turn to again and again, that you can’t live without? Here, Sarah Pekkanan answers that question in a piece that aired on NPR:

“I needed advice before I tried to write a novel. The usual axiom — write what you know — wasn't helpful. I spend my days driving my older children to school and changing my younger one's diaper — not exactly best-seller material.

“So I turned to experts. Three books gave me invaluable writing advice. One, by a best-selling writer; one, by a top New York agent; and one, by a guy who struggled for years to learn how to write a book and wanted to make it easier for the rest of us”

As for me, I’ve imposed various quotations from John Gardner on many, many classes, so I’d have to give the nod to his two great writing books: The Art of Fiction and On Becoming a Novelist.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott is the one I turn to when I’m feeling discouraged, and my new favorite for exercises is Naming the World, edited by Bret Anthony Johnston. I like the craft essays in Creating Fiction edited by Julie Checkoway.

And to learn plot, structure, and everything you need to know to write a novel…you guessed it: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.