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Naiilo

Writer's Manuals and Referance Guides

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It seems that with this being a writing forum, we should have a list of useful reference texts and books for writers. Please post your recommendations and maybe we can collect them together into a sticky or FAQ-type post.

My recommendations are:

-?The Elements of Style? ?Latest Edition- by William Strunk Jr., E.B. White, Roger Angell

>>>>>This one has helped me become a better writer just by reading it. It was a recommendation from a friend of mine four years ago. Cheap and worth it.

][][][Removed][][][

-Any Style Guide. Style guides such as MLA, AP, and so on help writing. They tend to be for more professional situations, but who is to say that you won?t pick up a thing or two from a style guide to improve your already wonderful skills?

-A good dictionary and thesaurus (same publisher for consistancy).

Well, that?s all I?ve got for now. Add what you think is appropriate.

-Naiilo

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Politics and the English Language.

This is the essay where Orwell sets out some wonderful real life examples and some of his own parodies of bad writing. He also gives his famous six rules of writing. I think you have to take rules and even guides as less than binding. Like punctuation you sometimes break a rule but you need to know when and why it's the right thing to do. (And yes, I have totally monged punctuation but it's not for wanting of trying!).

For French I think you can't do better than Le Bon Usage even though it's out of date and concentrates on grammar.

There's a list of reference works here.

Course, it would show if I took any of the advice.

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Hmmm, doesn't look like anyone would like to contribute...Oh well, that doesn't matter. What does matter are these links I found:

"Writerisms and Other Sins"

http://www.cherryh.com/www/advice.htm

"Strong vs. Weak Characters"

http://www.cherryh.com/www/charac.htm

"Pre- and Post-1900's Language"

http://www.cherryh.com/www/antique1.htm

Pretty neat, huh? I haven't read any of his novels, but what she(*EDIT*-Thanks blue!) says makes sense.

-Naiilo

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Politics and the English Language.

I think you have to take rules and even guides as less than binding.  Like punctuation you sometimes break a rule but you need to know when and why it's the right thing to do.  

Rules are needed, but, like you, I think they should be ignored when appropriate. The techniques, guides, and suggestions present in writing manuals and like devices give writers new tools to work with and sometimes improve upon what a writer has also written. As one of my good writer friends says: "It doesn't matter how good you think you are, you can always improve."

-Naiilo

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Pretty neat, huh? I haven't read any of his novels, but what he says makes sense.

Naiilo -- It's interesting you turned up those links, they're good essays. -- "Her" novels, actually. C.J. Cherryh is a science fiction and fantasy author. Before she switched to writing full-time, she taught languages and she has a degree in classical history. -- I'd highly recommend you read her books; they're very good.

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No one, and I mean NO ONE is doing any better writing out there than this woman. There are people doing brilliant things in other genres, and doing them every bit as well, but this woman is flat out genius level.

cheers!

aj

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No one, and I mean NO ONE is doing any better writing out there than this woman. There are people doing brilliant things in other genres, and doing them every bit as well, but this woman is flat out genius level.

I dislike her stuff. But that's just me. Not arguing your persona l preference, but your statement. Obviously I think lots of people are doing better work.

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It seems that with this being a writing forum, we should have a list of useful reference texts and books for writers. Please post your recommendations and maybe we can collect them together into a sticky or FAQ-type post.

Gee, I kind of did that over a year ago with my How to Write Gay Fiction piece sometime back.

The problem with books like Strunk & White and the style guides is that they're as dull as goddamned dishwater. They don't really apply so much to the creative writer as they do to writers in general, particularly English students writing term papers. To me, books like these aren't specific enough to help those of us who are here, trying to write fiction.

That having been said: a good dictionary and a good style guide (and even S&W) do belong on the shelf of any writer. At the same time, they're not the types of books that compel me to pull them out and re-read them. The ones I cited in my article, though, are far more instructive, more entertaining, and more useful, plus they hold up well if you read them more than once.

To me, knowing how to spell and knowing basic grammar are given. The hard stuff is gaining the skill to construct a plot that makes sense and creating characters that grab the reader's attention.

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