Prose Style Resources: Links and Extra Materials

If you enjoyed my e-book on writing style, take a look through this list of recommended readings.

Writing Better Sentences the ebook | ten techniques to help you write faster, with more confidence and authority. No grammatical knowledge required (at first)!

If you haven’t yet read the guide itself, download it (for free) here.

Essential books mentioned in the guide

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If you’ve read the e-book and want to learn more, there are two paths to improvement. One is to read actual great stylists, to learn from the best. The other is to read scholars of style and prose, so that you can train your eye and ear to better understand what those stylists are doing.

The two paths work best together, I think. If you only take the first path, much of the actual technique on display will wash over you, unseen, too powerful to absorb. If you only take the second, you can get a pallid, rule-ish, merely-theoretical idea how great writing works.

Great writers mentioned in “How to Write Better Sentences”

After Claude

This novel is funny, daring, disturbing.

To the Lighthouse

Virginia Woolf at her best.

The Great Gatsby

Let’s be serious. This is the Great American Novel.

Grace Paley

These stories capture real workers, real thinkers, in the most minimal and careful prose.

The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel

Amy Hempel’s miniature stories are fascinating.

Florida

These stories will make your head reel with their strange sonic qualities. Hard to remember reading afterwards, impossible to stop reading while.

Hyperion

The classic sci fi / horror saga.

The Firm

This is a good book and a quick read.

On Beauty

Elaine Scarry somehow writes scholarship on familiar topics in a brilliant style that yet feels easy to read.

Great Textbooks Mentioned in “How to Write Better Sentences”

Brooks Landon’s audio course, Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer’s Craft and accompanying book, is a fantastic introduction to the cumulative sentence and prose style in general.

Get the course and listen — you will learn so much. It’s probably the easiest way into Christensen’s ideas.

Strunk and White

The short classic.

Analyzing Prose

Lanham’s guide to style in many different forms.

The Well-Crafted Sentence

Nora Bacon’s textbook is aimed at college-classrooms but is useful to every writer.

On Writing Fiction

David Jauss’s ideas about fiction and writing in general are always fascinating.

Towards a New Rhetoric

This is Francis Christensen’s master-work. Not always easy to follow, but a remarkable, remarkable short book that will transform your understanding of writing and style.

Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style

Virginia Tufte’s book is strangely little talked of today, but it is a fantastic guide to writing in all genres.

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