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28

To start the list: I myself found 'On writing' from Stephen King very helpful.


16

A few of my favourite writing books: Steven King's On Writing - hands down the most inspirational read on writing I've read (and his process is different than many). Eats, Shoots, and Leaves - a witty read on punctuation, great for sharpening that part of your brain. Sin and syntax - a book of examples of good and bad syntax, some of the most fluid writing ...


16

I was taught to do character writing exercises. The biggest questions you need to answer about your characters are along the lines of the following: What does she want most out of this situation? What is his deepest fear? What does she love? What does he hate? What motivates her to do [thing]? What does he want from her? Basically you need to find the ...


16

One of the best books you can read on the subject is Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics. The book itself is written as a comic, so it can illustrate the techniques it discusses. One of the topics covered is word-picture dynamics, which seems pretty close to what you're looking for.


15

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 ...


15

I just finished working on a 150-page Corporate Style Guide, so while I can answer this question in great detail if you want, my answer is not for WritersSE, I think. AP and Chicago are mostly about the construction of writing — when to use a semi-colon, how to capitalize, the placement of someone's title. A Corporate Style Guide, also called ...


14

Some tool such as this could be useful, but I believe you are asking the wrong questions. In my answer to the question you linked and another answer in that question by Fox Cutter, the questions we posed weren't life detail questions. They were motivation questions. There's a key difference. I might create this shell man who gets up at 6:45 on the dot ...


13

On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser


13

http://www.rhymezone.com/ You just type in a word, then select one of the following. Then you have a full list of things to use! Rhymes Near Rhymes Synonyms Antonyms Definition Related words Similar sounding Homophones Match consonants only Match these letters Check spelling of a word Search for pictures Search in Shakespeare Search for quotes


12

When I'm thinking about where I learned most how to write, I think that reading was the most important guide to me. This may sound silly, but by reading good written newspaper articles (facts, opinions, scientific articles and most of all, criticisms of films and music), I learned how others did the job, what works and what doesn't. In my own writing, I try ...


11

My favourite is Writing Excuses "15 minutes long because your in a hurry, and we're not that smart!" Focus is on fiction (especially spec fiction) and advice for aspiring writers. The hosts are: Brandon Sanderson (Wheel of Time, Mistborn, etc) Howard Taylor (Schlock Mercenary) Dan Wells (I Am Not a Serial Killer, etc) Mary Robinette Kowal (Shades of ...


9

Orson Scott Card: Characters and Viewpoint Keith Johnstone: Impro for storytellers (intended for improv actors, but energizing to read and it gives useful tips about what makes a story roll) Jerome Stern: Making shapely fiction Paul Matthews: Sing me the creation (exercises intended for poets, but useful for prose writing, too)


9

Ingram is the largest book distributor in the business. You can call their automated stock check number at (800) 937-0995. Enter a book's ISBN, and you'll get back its current sales data. You can also get Amazon's historical data by signing up for an account at TitleZ and selecting the books you want to track. Both of the above are free services.


8

Bird by Bird by Anne Lammott


8

The style manual or guide depends on the audience. Journalists will use the AP Stylebook. Academic writers have a few more options depending on their field. Most English or Literature focused writing will use MLA and social science writing will likely use APA. For other kinds of writing, especially for an academic journal, check what style they prefer. They ...


8

Writing Down the Bones Good start, nice lessons to improve your skills, just ignore the Zen stuff.


8

To add on to TML's answer: Journalists generally use the AP Stylebook. When writing for the web, the Yahoo! Style Guide is often used.


8

Archetypes may be a good place to start. They won't really help with details about dialect but as archetypes they (supposedly) transcend culture and are a foundation on which all personalities are based. They could certainly be useful in understanding the psychology of your characters if not their mannerisms.


8

Well, J. Michael Straczynski said he had three basic questions to help build the core of a character. They also provide something from which to build interpersonal conflict. What do they want? What will they do to get it? What will someone do to stop them? As for the rest of the character, there's always the issues of what they like to do when they ...


8

EDIT: In reconsidering this question and a conversation I had with a colleague the other day I believe I have something to add on this. He mentioned reading about the way Agatha Christie used to construct her stories. He made the assertion that she used to write the whole thing without actually knowing who the murderer was, then analyse what she had written ...


8

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 ...


8

I think I've written this before (or upvoted someone who has written it), but so what: You need a basic idea. Oh, you have one, good. You need a main conflict. Otherwise you do not have a story. That means your hero wants something and someone is putting obstacles in his way. Like Remeo wants Juliet, but their families are against their relationship. Hero ...


7

BeginningWriters.com has some good articles for beginning writers. http://beginningwriters.com/


7

Strunk and White: The Elements of Style


7

Sensual observations are all well and good, but there is also the landscape of the mind to consider. What associations do you make when you see/hear/feel/taste a scene? What makes that scene come alive in your mind? And above all, what does the scene mean and to whom? Remember that landscapes are like stages: they are inert until an actor strides out upon ...


7

Rather than formal training, consider getting involved with the doc team of an open source project with a strong commitment to the quality of their technical writing. You'll get not just one teacher's eyes on your work, but several to dozens of experienced technical writers. You'll get feedback from consumers of your technical writing. You'll have a ...


7

Does the OneLook Reverse Dictionary work for this? You still need to winnow down your search phrase, but it might work. (Information from this answer.) However, good ol' Google will sometimes do this as well; just type in "word that means" and the rest of a short phrase. For example, here's the search phrase "Word that means separating wheat from chaff". ...


6

The following were very informative for me, for various reasons: How to Write Best Selling Fiction, by Dean Koontz: no-nonsense, practical, full of real-world examples, though a bit dated. The Craft of Writing Science Fiction That Sells, by Ben Bova: examines the mechanics of what the craft of writing good fiction consists of (note Bova was an editor for ...


6

The following are the books I have found especially helpful over the years Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft (8th Edition) by Janet Burroway et. al. This is the first book on the craft I bought based on the recommendation of the instructor in the first fiction writing class I took back in college. It is now in its 8th edition. Points of View ...



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