So I’m starting out on a new venture tomorrow, seeking to address a serious deficiency of mine. I’ve gathered a stack of books about writing, which if I had any decency or discipline as a writer I’d have read long ago, but which I have sadly neglected. Still, better late than never, and it is my hope to give periodic posts on things I find along the way that I want to pass on. The stack includes books like the following:
The Elements of Style by Strunk & White
The Art of Fiction by John Gardner
On Writing by Stephen King
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne & King
Aspects of the Novel by E.M. Forster
On Writing Well by William Zinsser
My friend Jonathan Rogers recommended the books by Anne Lamott and Stephen King. Jeff Gerke at his website “Where the Map Ends” strongly recommends the Brown & King book, and my older brother has pleaded the case for Strunk & White and John Gardner for many, many years. I don’t remember how or when I acquired the other two, but they were on my shelf and so now they’ve been moved to my stack – and, though not a book about fiction, Zinsser’s book is considered a classic on non-fiction prose, so I thought it worth a gander.
I will start, of course, with Strunk & White, because it is perhaps the most commonly commended book on writing that I know, a definitive work – if such at thing exists – on style, and because E.B. White was about as good a writer as there ever was.
On that note, I want to commend White too you, dear reader. You probably know him from Charlotte’s Web fame, and deservedly so. However, his essays are must reads for anyone interested in learning style. “Once More to the Lake” is probably the most famous, but there are many good ones. “The Geese” is a reflection on growing older, and very powerful, as is “Death of a Pig,” an essay which any fan of Charlotte’s Web should read, as it is almost certainly the story behind the story. Pick one and dig in.
So, stay tuned for occasional updates from my journey through some of the literature on writing.