Last week I attended the one day Cape Fear Crime Festival in NC and one of the speakers was Chris Roerden, a contract editor now, with something like 44 years in the business, who's written the non-fiction and winner of the Agatha Christie for Best non-fiction book, DON'T MURDER YOUR MYSTERY, and the follow-up, DON'T SABOTAGE YOUR SUBMISSION.

Chris is a delightful speaker and I bought a copy of DON'T SABOTAGE YOUR SUBMISSION (but haven't started it yet).

So, buying it I was wondering: what is your favorite How-To Write book?

Let us know,

David DeLee

A Cold Wind - a Grace deHaviland novella

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I did  read the King book, but I don't really use books on writing.

I debated between Self-Editing, which Dana mentioned, and The Art of Fiction by John Gardner.

(Once stayed in a hotel room yards from the waves in Wrightsville Beach with the future wife.)

Thanks, Eric. I'd forgotten about Gardner's book. been a while since I read it, but it's very god.

And for those of you who like to plan and outline. Obsessively, if you're like me. I recommend Hallie Ephron's WRITING AND SELLING YOUR MYSTERY NOVEL: HOW TO KNOCK 'EM DEAD WITH STYLE.

Great book to plan by.

David DeLee

A Cold Wind - a Grace deHaviland novella

"Revision & Self-Editing" by James Scott Bell, "Telling Lies for Fun & Profit" by Lawrence Block, "Writing the Modern Mystery" by Barbara Norville.


Jed Power

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White is my all time favorite. I also like On Writing by Stephen King, The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman and 78 Reasons why your book may never be published & 14 Reasons why it just might by Pat Walsh.

All good ones, Patricia, though I'm not familiar with 78 Reasons... I'll have to check it out.

David DeLee

A Cold Wind - a Grace deHaviland novella

I've read dozens of books on writing fiction over the years.  Unquestionably, Immediate Fiction: A Complete Writing Course, by Jerry Cleaver, is the best.  By far the best. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, already mentioned here, is also a terrific book.  But if you haven't read Immediate Fiction, by all means get it.  From developing your technique to developing your writing schedule, it has it all. 

The Elements of Stlye has some bad advice in it. Here's a good article talking about that:

Aha!  I see it's the much-vaunted Strunk & White that's responsible for the ridiculous use of "passive" for all sorts of situations that have nothing whatsoever to do with the construction in which the subject is passive rather than active.  All the sentences quoted as misidentifying passive voice contain "was" or "were".  Those two little words do not make a sentence "passive," but for some reason everyone seems to think so.  You need to find a better term to tell people that maybe another verb might be more interesting in certain sentences. (My experience from Freshman English classes suggests that few students know what a passive is).


And Strunk & White can also be blamed for the war against adverbs and adjectives.


Silly buggers!

 Well put!

I just finished the article.  I think it a little unfair because Strunk taught FRESHMAN.  He wanted to cure their bad writing habits.  So he simplified the rules.  As a slightly more experienced writer, I know more about when to break the rules.  I'm still a big fan of S&W and use it to help clarify basic rules.

Left out of the critique was S&W's excellent section on when to use what word, like past and passed or affect and effect.


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