The long-awaited guide to writing long-form nonfiction by the legendary author and teacher
Draft No. 4 is a master class on the writer's craft. In a series of playful, expertly wrought essays, John McPhee shares insights he has gathered over his career and has refined while teaching at Princeton University, where he has nurtured some of the most esteemed writers of recent decades. McPhee offers definitive guidance in the decisions regarding arrangement, diction, and tone that shape nonfiction pieces, and he presents extracts from his work, subjecting them to wry scrutiny. In one essay, he considers the delicate art of getting sources to tell you what they might not otherwise reveal. In another, he discusses how to use flashback to place a bear encounter in a travel narrative, while observing that "readers are not supposed to notice the structure. It is meant to be about as visible as someone's bones." The result is a vivid depiction of the writing process, from reporting to drafting to revising--and revising, and revising.
Draft No. 4 is enriched by multiple diagrams and by personal anecdotes and charming reflections on the life of a writer. McPhee describes his enduring relationships with The New Yorker and Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and recalls his early years at Time magazine. Throughout, Draft No. 4 is enlivened by his keen sense of writing as a way of being in the world.
Poetry is never more vital, meaningful, or accessible than in the hands of David Orr. In the pieces collected here, most of them written originally for the New York Times, Orr is at his rigorous, conversational, and edifying best. Whether he is considering the careers of contemporary masters, such as Louise Gluck or Frederick Seidel, sizing up younger American poets, like Matthea Harvey and Matthew Zapruder, or even turning his attention to celebrities and public figures, namely Oprah Winfrey and Stephen Fry, when they choose to wade into the hotly contested waters of the poetry world, Orr is never any less than fully persuasive in arguing what makes a poem or poet great--or not. After all, as Orr points out in his introduction, "Poetry is a lot like America, in the sense that liking all of it means that you probably shouldn't be trusted with money, or scissors."
Orr's prose is devoted to common sense and clarity, and, in every case, he brings to bear an impeccable ear, an openhandedness of spirit, and a deep wealth of technical knowledge--to say nothing of his shrewd sense of humor. As pleasurable as it is informative, Orr's journalism represents a high watermark in the public discussion of literature. You, Too, Could Write a Poem is at heart a love note to poetry itself.
In 2011, when an international survey reported that students in Shanghai dramatically outperformed American students in reading, math, and science, President Obama declared it a "Sputnik moment": a wake-up call about the dismal state of American education. Little has changed, however, since then: over half of our children still read at a basic level and few become highly proficient. Many American children and adults are not functionally literate, with serious consequences. Poor readers are more likely to drop out of the educational system and as adults are unable to fully participate in the workforce, adequately manage their own health care, or advance their children's education. In Language at the Speed of Sight, internationally renowned cognitive scientist Mark Seidenberg reveals the underexplored science of reading, which spans cognitive science, neurobiology, and linguistics. As Seidenberg shows, the disconnect between science and education is a major factor in America's chronic underachievement. How we teach reading places many children at risk of failure, discriminates against poorer kids, and discourages even those who could have become more successful readers. Children aren't taught basic print skills because educators cling to the disproved theory that good readers guess the words in texts, a strategy that encourages skimming instead of close reading. Interventions for children with reading disabilities are delayed because parents are mistakenly told their kids will catch up if they work harder. Learning to read is more difficult for children who speak a minority dialect in the home, but that is not reflected in classroom practices. By building on science's insights, we can improve how our children read, and take real steps toward solving the inequality that illiteracy breeds. Both an expert look at our relationship with the written word and a rousing call to action, Language at the Speed of Sight is essential for parents, educators, policy makers, and all others who want to understand why so many fail to read, and how to change that.
"An idea is a feat of association, and the height of it is a good metaphor." -- Robert Frost
For 3,000 years, great thinkers and writers have relied on the device of metaphor to articulate profound thoughts, give voice to powerful emotions, and creatively explain complex ideas. But metaphorical language is not the sole province of poets, philosophers, and playwrights. If you've ever tried to describe a broken heart, a thankless child, or a glorious triumph, you know how valuable--and compelling--the perfect metaphor can be.
In Metaphors Be With You, respected quotation anthologist Dr. Mardy Grothe has created the definitive collection of history's greatest metaphorical quotations. While crafting his lists of "The Ten Best Things Ever Said" on 250 topics of deep human interest, Dr. Mardy examined more than five million metaphorical observations from literature, politics, philosophy, religion, history, pop culture, and more.
Essential for writers, readers, and language aficionados, this remarkable sourcebook breaks new ground by using QR Codes to digitally integrate it with "Dr. Mardy's Dictionary of Metaphorical Quotations" (DMDMQ), the world's largest online database of metaphorical quotations. The elegant synergy between print and technology provides curious readers with detailed source information for all quotations, innumerable "Error Alerts," countless quotation backstories, and a wealth of other quotations to further their knowledge and deepen their understanding of favorite quotations.
Whether you're crafting a speech, writing a novel, or simply searching for new ways to express yourself, this meticulously curated compendium is as delightful to read as it is invaluable to own--and sure to inspire with the perfect metaphor every time.
Did you know that your answers to just a handful of questions can reveal where you grew up? In December 2013, Josh Katz released an interactive dialect quiz in the New York Times that became the most viewed page in the paper's history. Now a graphics editor, Katz harnessed the overwhelming response to that quiz to create Speaking American, an extraordinary and beautiful tour through the American vernacular.
How do you pronounce "pecan"? What do you call a long sandwich with varieties of meats and cheeses? Do you cut the grass or mow the lawn?
The answers to these questions--and the distinctions they reveal about who says what and where they say it--are not just the ultimate in cocktail party fodder; they are also windows into the history of our nation, our regions, and our language. On page after page, readers will be fascinated and charmed by these stunning maps of how Americans speak as they gain new insights into our language and ourselves.
For fans of Eats, Shoots and Leaves and How the States Got Their Shapes, Speaking American is an irresistible feast of American regional speech.
A spirited and useful guide for writers with tips and tricks from Jane Austen, whose novels stand the test of time, by her great great great great grand niece.
Pretty much anything anyone needs to know about writing can be learned from Jane Austen. While creative writing manuals tend to use examples from twentieth- and twenty-first-century writers, The Jane Austen Writers' Club is the first to look at the methods and devices used by the world's most beloved novelist. Austen was a creator of immortal characters and a pioneer in her use of language and point of view; her advice continues to be relevant two centuries after her death.
Here Rebecca Smith examines the major aspects of writing fiction--plotting, characterization, openings and endings, dialogue, settings, and writing methods--sharing the advice Austen gave in letters to her aspiring novelist nieces and nephew, and providing many and varied exercises for writers to try, using examples from Austen's work.
*Show your character doing the thing he or she most loves doing. In the opening scene of Persuasion, Sir Walter Elliot looks himself up in the Baronetage, which is the Regency equivalent of Googling oneself. That single scene gives us a clear understanding of the kind of man he is and sets up the plot.
* Use Jane Austen's first attempts at stories to get yourself started. Write a very short story inspired by "The Beautifull Cassandra," a work of eighteenth-century flash fiction.
The Jane Austen Writers' Club is a fresh primer on writing that features utterly timeless advice.
A book-length master class. The Atlantic
Writing well does not result from following rules and instructions, but from a blend of spontaneity, judgment, and a wise attitude toward the work neither despairing nor defensive, but clear-eyed, courageous, and discerning. Writers must learn to tolerate the early stages, the dreamlike and irrational states of mind, and then to move from jottings and ideas to a messy first draft, and onward into the work of revision. Understanding these stages is key.
The Kite and the String urges writers to let playfulness and spontaneity breathe life into the work letting the kite move with the winds of feeling while still holding on to the string that will keep it from flying away. Alice Mattison attends also to the difficulties of protecting writing time, preserving solitude, finding trusted readers, and setting the right goals for publication. The only writing guide that takes up both the stages of creative work and developing effective attitudes while progressing through them, plus strategies for learning more about the craft, The Kite and the Stringresponds to a pressing need for writing guidance at all levels."
"Fish mines cultural touchstones from Milton to 'Married with Children' to explain how various types of arguments are structured and how that understanding can lead to victory" -- New York Times Book Review
A lively and accessible guide to understanding rhetoric by the world class English and Law professor and bestselling author of How to Write a Sentence.
Filled with the wit and observational prowess that shaped Stanley Fish's acclaimed bestseller How to Write a Sentence, Winning Arguments guides readers through the "greatest hits" of rhetoric. In this clever and engaging guide, Fish offers insight and outlines the crucial keys you need to win any debate, anywhere, anytime--drawn from landmark legal cases, politics, his own career, and even popular film and television. A celebration of clashing minds and viewpoints, Winning Arguments is sure to become a classic.
For anyone who has ever been inspired by a TED talk...
...this is an insider's guide to creating talks that are unforgettable.
Since taking over TED in the early 2000s, Chris Anderson has shown how carefully crafted short talks can be the key to unlocking empathy, stirring excitement, spreading knowledge, and promoting a shared dream. Done right, a talk can electrify a room and transform an audience's worldview. Done right, a talk is more powerful than anything in written form.
This book explains how the miracle of powerful public speaking is achieved, and equips you to give it your best shot. There is no set formula; no two talks should be the same. The goal is for you to give the talk that only you can give. But don't be intimidated. You may find it more natural than you think.
Chris Anderson has worked behind the scenes with all the TED speakers who have inspired us the most, and here he shares insights from such favorites as Sir Ken Robinson, Amy Cuddy, Bill Gates, Elizabeth Gilbert, Salman Khan, Dan Gilbert, Mary Roach, Matt Ridley, and dozens more -- everything from how to craft your talk's content to how you can be most effective on stage. This is the 21st-century's new manual for truly effective communication and it is a must-read for anyone who is ready to create impact with their ideas.
The Modern Language Association, the authority on research and writing, takes a fresh look at documenting sources in the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook. Works are published today in a dizzying range of formats. A book, for example, may be read in print, online, or as an e-book--or perhaps listened to in an audio version. On the Web, modes of publication are regularly invented, combined, and modified. Previous editions of the MLA Handbook provided separate instructions for each format, and additional instructions were required for new formats. In this groundbreaking new edition of its best-selling handbook, the MLA recommends instead one universal set of guidelines, which writers can apply to any type of source.
Shorter and redesigned for easy use, the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook guides writers through the principles behind evaluating sources for their research. It then shows them how to cite sources in their writing and create useful entries for the works-cited list.
More than just a new edition, this is a new MLA style.
Suspense is one of the most powerful tools a writer has for captivating readers--but it isn't just for thrillers. From mainstream fiction to memoir, suspense creates the emotional tension that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. Mastering Suspense, Structure, & Plot is your hands-on guide to weaving suspense into your narrative. Award-winning author Jane K. Cleland teaches you how to navigate genre conventions, write for your audience, and build gripping tension to craft an irresistible page-turner.
Inside, Cleland will show you how to:
- Implement thirteen no-fail techniques to construct an effective plot and structure for your story
- Use Cleland's Plotting Road Map to add elements of suspense like twists, reversals, and moments of danger
- Write subplots with purpose
- Improve your descriptions, character development, sentence structure, and more
"Indispensable For newbie authors and veterans alike, this terrific how-to is your new go-to. Don't write your book without it--it's a treasure." --Hank Phillippi Ryan, Agatha, Anthony, Macavity and Mary Higgins Clark award-winning author
Bring on the funny With Comedy Writing Secrets 3rd Edition, you can discover the secrets of humor writing that will keep your readers rolling in their seats. Learn the basics of joke construction, as well as in-depth comedy-writing techniques that you can apply to a variety of print and online markets. If your aim is to make 'em laugh--and make a career in comedy writing--then look no further.
In this completely revised and refreshed edition, you'll discover:
- Hundreds of updated one-liners, anecdotes, and bits from top comedians like Louis C.K., Conan O'Brien, Tina Fey, Amy Schumer, Rodney Dangerfield, Jon Stewart, Steve Martin, Ellen DeGeneres, Jimmy Fallon, George Carlin, Zach Galifianakis, Stephen Colbert, Erma Bombeck, and more.
- Exclusive tips for injecting humor into articles, speeches, advertisements, greeting cards, and more.
- New instruction on writing for online markets and social media.
- Advice on brainstorming and editing to beat writer's block and generate new material.
- Exercises and expanded instructions for exaggeration, reverses, word play and more to practice and refine your writing skills.
In a series of conversational observations and meditations on the writing process, The Art of Slow Writing examines the benefits of writing slowly. DeSalvo advises her readers to explore their creative process on deeper levels by getting to know themselves and their stories more fully over a longer period of time. She writes in the same supportive manner that encourages her students, using the slow writing process to help them explore the complexities of craft. The Art of Slow Writing is the antidote to self-help books that preach the idea of fast-writing, finishing a novel a year, and quick revisions. DeSalvo makes a case that more mature writing often develops over a longer period of time and offers tips and techniques to train the creative process in this new experience.
DeSalvo describes the work habits of successful writers (among them, Nobel Prize laureates) so that readers can use the information provided to develop their identity as writers and transform their writing lives. It includes anecdotes from classic American and international writers such as John Steinbeck, Henry Miller, Virginia Woolf and D. H. Lawrence as well as contemporary authors such as Michael Chabon, Junot Diaz, Jeffrey Eugenides, Ian McEwan, and Salman Rushdie. DeSalvo skillfully and gently guides writers to not only start their work, but immerse themselves fully in the process and create texts they will treasure.
Completely revised and rewritten to address the challenges and opportunities of the modern era, this handbook is a short, deceptively simple guide to the craft of writing. Le Guin lays out ten chapters that address the most fundamental components of narrative, from the sound of language to sentence construction to point of view. Each chapter combines illustrative examples from the global canon with Le Guin's own witty commentary and an exercise that the writer can do solo or in a group. She also offers a comprehensive guide to working in writing groups, both actual and online.
Masterly and concise, Steering the Craft deserves a place on every writer's shelf.
Through anecdotes about other writers' methods and habits (as well as his own) and close readings of literature from Aristotle to Zola, the essays in this collection offer "suggestions about things to do, things to think about when your writing has got you lost in the woods." In "Dogma and Anti-dogma" Casey sets out the tried-and-true advice and then comments on when to apply it and when to ignore it. In "What's Funny" he considers the range of comedy from pratfalls to elegant wit. In "In Other Words" he discusses translations and the surprising effects that translating can have on one's native language. In "Mentors" he pays tribute to those who have guided him and other writers. Throughout the fourteen essays there are notes on voice, point of view, structure, and other crucial elements. This book is an invaluable resource for aspiring writers and a revitalizing companion for seasoned ones.
Hirsch has delved deeply into the poetic traditions of the world, returning with an inclusive, international compendium. Moving gracefully from the bards of ancient Greece to the revolutionaries of Latin America, from small formal elements to large mysteries, he provides thoughtful definitions for the most important poetic vocabulary, imbuing his work with a lifetime of scholarship and the warmth of a man devoted to his art.
Knowing how a poem works is essential to unlocking its meaning. Hirsch's entries will deepen readers' relationships with their favorite poems and open greater levels of understanding in each new poem they encounter. Shot through with the enthusiasm, authority, and sheer delight that made How to Read a Poem so beloved, A Poet's Glossary is a new classic.
Denis Donoghue turns his attention to the practice of metaphor and to its lesser cousins, simile, metonym, and synecdoche. Metaphor ("a carrying or bearing across") supposes that an ordinary word could have been used in a statement but hasn't been. Instead, something else, something unexpected, appears. The point of a metaphor is to enrich the reader's experience by bringing different associations to mind. The force of a good metaphor is to give something a different life, a new life. The essential character of metaphor, Donoghue says, is prophetic. Metaphors intend to change the world by changing our sense of it.
At the center of Donoghue's study is the idea that metaphor permits the greatest freedom in the use of language because it exempts language from the local duties of reference and denotation. Metaphors conspire with the mind in its enjoyment of freedom. Metaphor celebrates imaginative life par excellence, from Donoghue's musings on Aquinas' Latin hymns, interspersed with autobiographical reflection, to his agile and perceptive readings of Wallace Stevens.
When Donoghue surveys the history of metaphor and resistance to it, going back to Aristotle and forward to George Lakoff, he is a sly, cogent, and persuasive companion. He also addresses the question of whether or not metaphors can ever truly die. Reflected on every page of Metaphor are the accumulated wisdom of decades of reading and a sheer love of language and life.
The fifth volume in the acclaimed Now Write writing-guide series offers a full toolbox of advice and exercises for speculative fiction writers hoping to craft an engaging alternate reality, flesh out an enthralling fantasy quest, or dream up a bloodcurdling plot twist, including:
-Harlan Ellison (R), on crafting the perfect story title
-Jack Ketchum, on how economy of language helps create a truly frightening tale
-Piers Anthony, on making fantastical characters feel genuine and relatable
Among the other writers incluided are: Steven Barnes, Peter Briggs, David Brin, Sara B. Cooper, Brian James Freeman, Joe R. Lansdale, Bruce McAllister, Vonda N. McIntyre, William F. Nolan, Michael Reaves, Melissa Scott, Michael Dillon Scott, Vanessa Vaughn and others.
This collection of storytelling secrets from top genre writers including winners of Nebula, Hugo, Edgar, and Bram Stoker awards is essential for any writer looking to take a leap beyond the ordinary."
- A guide to the basics of writing concisely, including how to reduce the number of words in a phrase, substitute a single word for a phrase, and delete extraneous words and phrases.
- The "Dictionary of Concise Writing," which gives concise alternatives to thousands of wordy phrases. Language expert Robert Hartwell Fiske uses each wordy phrase in a sentence and then rewrites or deletes the phrase entirely to show how the sentence can be improved.
- The brand new "Guide to Obfuscation: A Reverse Dictionary," which helps writers build a more pithy vocabulary.
To the Point is the perfect reference book for anyone who wants to communicate more effectively through clear and beautiful writing.
Grounded in a common-sense approach, friendly and supportive, How to Write Anything is Internet-savvy, with advice throughout about choosing the most appropriate medium for your message: e-mail or pen and paper. At once a how-to, a reference book, and a pioneering guide for writing in a changing world, this is the only writing resource you'll ever need.
In this portable, brief, and lucid guide to presenting, Wyeth counsels how to calm a thumping heart and reveals techniques on preparation, delivery, and visual aids as he gives you vivid stories and rubber-meets-the-road advice. And he does more than simply ease your dread; he inspires you with historical accounts and incisive observations on the power and purpose of speaking well. From advice on the pitch and pace of your speaking voice to admonishments against squirrel-paw hands and data-crammed PowerPoint slides, Wyeth's pointers will give you the focus and confidence to stand up straight, lean forward, and tell your story well.
Praise for Wonderbook:
"Jammed with storytelling wisdom." --Fast Company's Co.Create blog
"This is the kind of book you leave sitting out for all to see . . . and the kind of book you will find yourself picking up again and again." --Kirkus Reviews online
"If you're looking for a handy guide to not just crafting imaginative fiction like sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, but to writing in general, be sure to pick up a copy of Steampunk Bible author Jeff Vandermeer's lovingly compiled Wonderbook." --Flavorwire
"Jeff Vandermeer and Jeremy Zerfoss have created a kaleidoscopically rich and beautiful book about fiction writing." --Star Tribune
"Because it is so layered and filled with text, tips, and links to online extras, this book can be read again and again by both those who want to learn the craft of writing and those interested in the process of others." --Library Journal
Some acclaim for previous editions:
"Buy it, study it, enjoy it. It's as timeless as a book can be in our age of volubility."
-- "The New York Times"
"No book in shorter space, with fewer words, will help any writer more than this persistent little volume."
-- "The Boston Globe"
"White is one of the best stylists and most lucid minds in this country. What he says and his way of saying it are equally rewarding."
-- "The Wall Street Journal"
"The book remains a nonpareil: direct, correct, and delightful."
-- "The New Yorker"
." . . Should be the daily companion of anyone who writes for a living, and for that matter, anyone who writes at all."
-- "Greensboro (N.C.) Daily News"
"This excellent book, which should go off to college with every freshman, is recognized as the best book of its kind we have."
-- "St. Paul Dispatch - Pioneer Press
"It's hard to imagine an engineer or a manager who doesn't need to express himself in English prose as part of his job. It's also hard to imagine a writer who will not be improved by a liberal application of "The Elements of Style.""
-- "Telephone Engineer & Management"
Really. This isn't going to hurt at all . . .
If you hate having to sit down and write that class assignment, you'll change your mind when you open this entertaining and instructive book. It's filled with ideas on how you can express your thoughts clearly, enliven your writing with vivid images, and avoid the dull passive voice. Soon, you'll be constructing smooth sentences that flow together into lively themes which are fun to write and entertaining for others to read. As you progress through this book, you'll also enjoy answering the "Brain Tickler" quizzes that will keep you amused while they help you improve your writing style.
For Middle School and
High School Students
An ideal companion to high school English textbooks, this volume covers all Regents English topics prescribed by the New York State Board of Regents.