How to be A Better Writer

All In! Young Writers Festival
All In! Young Writers Festival
It doesn't matter if you're writing an epic novel, a news article, or a humble blog post. Good writing goes a long way and it will take you anywhere.
Written by a modern master of the advertising craft, this book contains a wealth of information that every creative writer (and fine... account exec) should know. This is a step-by-step guide on how to be a great at advertising, but we think the writing tips alone in there are a great resource.
Think back of the iconic sentences that you recall from books. "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.", "Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins." But do you think Tolstoy and Nabokov came up with this in just the first try? Fish picks apart great sentences and marvels at their workings, so you can see how writing can be calculated with lots of edits. The book not only gives you the tools to do the same, but sets you up to create some great sentences of your own.
Charles Saatchi didn't get to where he was with bad writing. No sir! The advertising guru was a concise, accurate writer that targeted consumer feelings and wants with just words. Babble is a collection of short essays and you can see just what a playful yet sharp, witty writer he is.
Babble, Charles Saatchi
Legendary writing teacher William Zinsser has always written in a clear, stylish manner, even as he has tackled a broad range of disciplines. Proving to us that it's not so much the content that makes it boring/dry/hard to read, but the style in which it is presented in. He spoke harshly about corporate speak, saying that it is "incomprehensible". His three guiding principles? Accuracy, brevity, and clarity. Keep these A-B-Cs in mind and you'll avoid the misunderstanding of bad writing. Especially great for those who are journalists writing for a specific beat like technology or medicine.
Writing to Learn, Zinsser William
The former CEO and Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers goes all #realtalk about modern-day publishing: you need a platform. Even Charles Dickens published Great Expectations as a story in a paper before it was released as a book. So being a great exceptional writer isn't all there is - and Thomas Nelson just dishes it out. "A good product does not stand on its own anymore. It is foundational, but it is not enough."
TIME named this American English writing style guide one of the 100 best and most influential books written in English since 1923. It's a must-read because it teaches you how to write in an active voice, omit needless words while creating something interesting. Whether you're an advertising copywriter or a budding fiction writer, this one will come in handy.
With a last name like "Prose", it'll be a waste if you weren't a writer. Francine Prose uses the works of literary greats to offer a wider view of techniques that can help any writer. Do you need Dicken's masterful simplicity in prose? Or Bronte's subtle, strong structure? She lays it all down. But it's not all spoon-feeding - she also teaches the reader how to analyse for themselves, and how to pick out the best techniques and tricks so they can use it on their own writing.
The thing is, sometimes as a fiction writer, you've got all the ideas and amazing characters. But your grammar leaves much to be desired. And really, good grammar goes a long way. This one gets down and dirty with all the rules you MUST follow.
"What not to Write" deals with all the awkward issues - acronyms, ambiguity, cliches, hyphens, jargon, sexist writing, letter writing and much, much more. No seriously, Kay Sayce covers a vast amount of the different types of writing (business writing too!) you'll be a fool to miss this one out. Truly a must-read if you're trying to improve your writing skills.
Great writing means that it's easily understood. But many people overuse cliches and big words. The Queen's English shows how the English language, when used properly, has great power to instruct, move and entertain people. And it's quite a hilarious read as well - especially because the English language has so many confusing rules!
The Queen's English, Bernard C.Lamb
Based on the title alone, you'd know how tricky the English language can be. We can't stress the importance of the Oxford comma! This wonderfully witty book wants us to look at our commas and semicolons and see them as the wonderful and necessary things they are. They are small details in the grand scheme of things, but big enough to change what you mean.
There are two kinds of writers: the simple Hemingway sort, or the Faulkner types with the bombastic vocabulary. There's no one better than the other, but it doesn't hurt to add another 500 words into your vocabulary. Sometimes, you just need that ONE word to accurately express what you mean.
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