Thursday, February 15, 2018

Editor's Notes #43: Best Books on Writing and Editing Part 3—More of Your Thoughts


In Editor's Notes #41, I told you about some of the books I read over the past year to further my knowledge of writing and editing. In Editor's Notes #42, I provided some recommendations I've received from others, and in today's post, I'm rounding out the list of books that author & editor friends have mentioned repeatedly as their go-tos. In fact, I had to cut books off the list because there were simply too many to cover effectively. If any of you are like I am, too many recommendations at once quickly become overwhelming, and I won't acquire any of them. And what's the use of recommending a bunch of things people are going to ignore, right?

So without further ado, here are three great recommendations. In fact, the last one can be heard on YouTube and will take less than twenty minutes of your time. You won't regret it.

The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker—Described as "more contemporary and comprehensive than The Elements of Style, Pinker's wit and clarity make this one a favorite I've seen recommended over and over. In his own words, "Good writing can flip the way the world is perceived." In my opinion, that makes for some of the best writing.

Stein On Writing by Sol Stein is highly recommended. Sol Stein is not only an author, but an editor too. He explains, "This is . . . a book of usable solutions—how to fix writing that is flawed, how to improve writing that is good, how to create interesting writing in the first place." Most who have recommended this book mention that it has many unique ideas and really has a little bit of something for everyone, whether you're a new writer or have been doing it for years.

Make Good Art by Neil Gaiman is actually a book created from the transcript of a speech given by Gaiman as a commencement address at Philadelphia's University of the Arts. Many people point out that the message is full of the WOW factor: even if you're unsure of your path, when your future seems uncertain, take what you've been given and make it into something better than what you started with. That being said, even those who love this speech really don't have a lot of good to say about the book. According to many reviewers, the book is so poorly designed that it is difficult to read . . . not "good art" at all. If you want the full effect of what Gaiman had to say, look up the video on YouTube and listen to the man himself. It really is an incredible speech, full of wisdom, humility, and humor, that I found to be time well spent.

So that's what I have, folks! As always, let me know if you've read any of these, and what you thought. Happy reading!

16 comments:

  1. Might have to pick up that second one.

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    1. There are just too many useful books out there. I fear I'll never make it through them all. I really enjoyed listening to Gaiman's speech, though.

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  2. Hi Lynda - thanks ... I'll look again at all three and give Gaiman a listen to ... at some stage I'll need to know some of these ideas and thoughts and "how to"s ... cheers Hilary

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    1. This is certainly a great "to-read" list! Thanks for the visit, Hilary!

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  3. Hello, darlin'! I've really enjoyed this series, though there are so many that they could easily be the sole subject of their own blog. Mainly, I wanted to let you know that I have a new site I started Monday, and it will be entirely devoted to the Craft, both mine and others. Wanting to attract new readers with some shameless name-dropping, I linked this post there this morning. You have been gracious enough to carry the Hideout on your sidebar for a while, so I should inform you that, while that isn't going away, the new one will be my primary (nearly sole, actually) presence on the web. https://blimprider.wordpress.com should you have an interest.

    Stay safe, and be happy!

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    1. Hey, I'll add the new one and keep them both. Congrats on the new site! I hope you didn't drive anyone away by dropping my name . . . unless you mean that you mentioned Neil Gaiman, in which case, you'll have people flocking there in no time, haha.

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  4. More fab suggestions! I love Neil Gaiman's Make Good Art speech, and it's true the book is a little odd. I quite like it though, and it's my reminder there on the shelf, as I'm absolutely rubbish at sitting through an entire youtube video ;)

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    1. I'm pretty terrible at sitting through videos, too. If it's longer than five minutes, I want a transcript that I can read in 45 seconds. Other than the fact that I know I can read a transcript quickly, I hate listening to mood-enhancing music and time-wasting filler of the same phrases that were in the video headline. Neil Gaiman's was certainly the exception. And perhaps part of it for me, also, is that I'm rarely by myself where I can listen to something without it bothering someone else (and I don't often have earbuds nearby).

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  5. Ahh, three new books to add to my list, and a video. Thanks Lynda!

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    1. I've saved the other recommendations for . . . maybe . . . next year. I can only put so many things in the queue and realistically remember them. By next year, I'm sure there will be a whole new list! Let me know if you find any good ones, Heidi.

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  6. Lynda, So much to learn and so many good sources of information. Thanks for reviewing what appear to be three good ones.

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    1. Good to hear from you, Donn! I'm looking forward to getting these books on my TBR pile for this year, in addition to the ones in the previous post. Just received The Best Punctuation Book, Period by June Cassagrande in yesterday's mail and am impatiently working on the books ahead of it, since she's an author I enjoy.

      By the way, I don't know if I mentioned it, but I like your new site! I changed my sidebar to reflect the new digs.

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  7. Thanks for these! Always good to be learning new approaches and perspectives on writing.

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    1. Sure thing! There's always more to learn, isn't there?

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  8. I've only read Gaiman's, now I have to go pick up the other two. Which I'm excited about, but also kind of ticked. You're piling up my TBR list with all these goodies and now my house is a mess :P . . . hahaha, okay, maybe not, but I am excited to get to them! :D

    And . . . "Good writing can flip the way the world is perceived."?Absolutely yes!!! <3

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    1. I should have checked with you first. I always assume you've read everything there is to read about these things. Maybe we can read some of the same ones at the same time and incorporate the discussion into our Tuesday work meetings. I mean, it's professional growth, right?

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