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Could you Please recommend me interesting non-technical books i could read which will help me improve my writing skills?

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You write about something you're passionate about, or want to show to the world and make it believable, and it comes very naturally. –  user4768 Feb 18 '13 at 23:35
    
To the user who flagged this as non-constructive: This is an older question left open for historical reasons. Were it asked now, it would probably be closed. –  Neil Fein Feb 23 '13 at 19:29

7 Answers 7

I'm not sure whether you're looking for how-to-write books or just books in general. Based on your writing in this short question, I'm going to say that I think it's a bit early for how-to books, and recommend that you just read a lot of anything you can find in English and work on getting the general vibe down. After you've done that for a while, it may be time to start writing and working on refinement.

If you feel that you're already at the point for how-to books, it would help if you'd let us know what type of writing you want to do. The rules are different depending on whether you're writing fiction or non-fiction, etc.

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The easiest way to improve your writing skills is to read, and read a lot. The best writers are also avid readers. Reading helps you learn grammar, vocabulary, sentence structure, world building, characterization, and so much more. You should read as many books as you can - both good books and bad.

By reading good books you're able to see what works. You'll see deep characters and learn techniques to make your own characters deep. You'll learn how to write well and keep your readers engaged.

By reading bad books, you'll learn what doesn't work. You'll see what flat characters are like. You'll learn what loses a readers attention and what confuses them. You'll see bad grammar and sentence structure.

The basic message: Read. A lot. Whatever you can get your hands on. Whether you read a book a day or a book a week, just read.

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And get into the habit of summarising a decent proportion of what you read. –  Charles Stewart Apr 4 '11 at 9:59
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The second I read this question, I wanted to write "All of them." Your way is better, though. ;) –  kitukwfyer Apr 8 '11 at 1:09
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@Malvolio Dan Brown and most NYT Best Selling authors aren't out their to write the best literary novels in the world. They're there to telling a compelling story and sell as many copies of it as possible. And in that, they are succeeding. –  Ralph Gallagher May 5 '11 at 0:19
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@RalphGallagher -- I'm not sure what your point is. Yes, Brown is trying to make money by writing shitty books and succeeding at it. You or I could either try that or go down to the bus station and offer $20 hand-jobs in the men's room, and the latter would be more dignified, more useful to society, and more likely to actually show a profit. –  Malvolio May 6 '11 at 2:27
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@RalphGallagher -- I'm not complaining that Brown is shallow, but that he's bad. To use an analogy: I happily eat at In-n-Out Burger. It isn't great cuisine, the ambiance is sterile, and it's pretty fatty; but it tastes good, it's cheap, and it's fresh. I don't eat at McDonald's, because it tastes like crap. I don't object to thriller writers. Right now, I'm re-reading a novel by Stephen Hunter, a pulp writer if there ever was one. I don't read Brown because his prose sucks. YMMV, of course. –  Malvolio May 6 '11 at 18:07

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White.

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S&W does do some things well, motivates the idea of good style nicely, and is itself well-written, but it has some serious issues and there are better style books out there. I recommend Williams, 2011, 3rd. ed., Writing with Style: Conversations on the Art of Writing. –  Charles Stewart Apr 4 '11 at 9:55
    
There are good writing manuals out there, just as there are good sex manuals -- but really, would you rather be reading a manual or learning by trial-and-error? –  Malvolio Apr 15 '11 at 3:09
    
@Malvolio I'm quite sure there are some trials and some errors I would not want to experience. –  Ed Guiness May 5 '11 at 13:29
    
Skydiving, for example. Chainsaw juggling. –  Lauren Ipsum Mar 7 '12 at 1:43

If you are looking at how-to books, both Stephen King and Orson Scott Card have some excellent books on the subject. Don't be put off by their genres.

Reading is very important, but don't ever forget to spend time doing deliberate practice writing. Do short pieces that focus on setting, descriptions, dialog, &etc. Set limits like 100/10,000 words, or imitate someone who has a distinctive style like Tom Clancy.

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Stephen King on writing? That's like Bernie Madoff on investing: he may have gotten rich doing it but I wouldn't recommend anyone else try it his way. –  Malvolio Apr 15 '11 at 3:00
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Firstly, this is not about getting rich, this is about improving writing skills. Secondly, Stephen King definitely knows how to write. Have you read S. King - On Writing? Great book. –  Lukas Stejskal May 11 '11 at 16:23

Read anything by Orwell, anything Nabokov. If you like something just a little down-market from there, Martin Cruz Smith and Scott Turow both write thrillers but with lovely use of language and characterization.

It doesn't matter how ridiculous a lie is if it's your only chance of escape. It doesn't matter how obvious the truth is if the truth is that you'll never escape. -- Martin Cruz Smith, Gorky Park

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When I read some interesting passage in a book, I'll sometimes pull out the notepad and copy it down. Gives my fingers good habits.

Also, writing longhand on plain paper makes it seem too informal to matter much so the self-critic is dismissive and I can write more freely.

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In addition to reading voraciously as has already been suggested (especially, but not only, in the genre/field you want to write) you might want to check out Stein on Writing by Sol Stein. It's the best book I've seen that discusses the writing craft, and contains sections on both fiction and non-fiction.

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protected by Neil Fein Feb 19 '13 at 0:01

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