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Daily Deals: Four writing books from Harper $1.99 each

How Not to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them--A Misstep-by-Misstep Guide How Not to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them–A Misstep-by-Misstep Guide by Howard Mittelmark, Sandra Newman. $ 1.99

From the Jacket Copy:

“What do you think of my fiction book writing?” the aspiring novelist extorted.

“Darn,” the editor hectored, in turn. “I can not publish your novel! It is full of what we in the business call ‘really awful writing.'”

“But how shall I absolve this dilemma? I have already read every tome available on how to write well and get published!” The writer tossed his head about, wildly.

“It might help,” opined the blonde editor, helpfully, “to ponder how NOT to write a novel, so you might avoid the very thing!”

Many writing books offer sound advice on how to write well. This is not one of those books. On the contrary, this is a collection of terrible, awkward, and laughably unreadable excerpts that will teach you what to avoid—at all costs—if you ever want your novel published.

In How Not to Write a Novel, authors Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman distill their 30 years combined experience in teaching, editing, writing, and reviewing fiction to bring you real advice from the other side of the query letter. Rather than telling you how or what to write, they identify the 200 most common mistakes unconsciously made by writers and teach you to recognize, avoid, and amend them. With hilarious “mis-examples” to demonstrate each manuscript-mangling error, they’ll help you troubleshoot your beginnings and endings, bad guys, love interests, style, jokes, perspective, voice, and more. As funny as it is useful, this essential how-NOT-to guide will help you get your manuscript out of the slush pile and into the bookstore.

From the excerpts, this book is so readable and entertaining that even non writers might be interested. For those who are writers, the examples and advice can serve as a valuable aide.

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On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction      by     William ZinsserOn Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser. $ 1.99

From the Jacket Copy:

On Writing Well has been praised for its sound advice, its clarity and the warmth of its style. It is a book for everybody who wants to learn how to write or who needs to do some writing to get through the day, as almost everybody does in the age of e-mail and the Internet. Whether you want to write about people or places, science and technology, business, sports, the arts or about yourself in the increasingly popular memoir genre, On Writing Well offers you fundamental priciples as well as the insights of a distinguished writer and teacher. With more than a million copies sole, this volume has stood the test of time and remains a valuable resource for writers and would-be writers.

The reviews suggest that Zinsser’s text is full of examples and practical ideas on how to improve your writing.

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Unless It Moves the Human Heart: The Craft and Art of Writing  by     Roger Rosenblatt Unless It Moves the Human Heart: The Craft and Art of Writing by Roger Rosenblatt. $ 1.99

From the Jacket Copy:

For more than forty years, distinguished author Roger Rosenblatt has also been a teacher of writing, guiding students with the same intelligence and generosity he brings to the page, answering the difficult questions about what makes a story good, an essay shapely, a novel successful, and the most profound and essential question of them all—why write?

Unless It Moves the Human Heart details one semester in Rosenblatt’s “Writing Everything” class. In a series of funny, intimate conversations, a diverse group of students—from Inur, a young woman whose family is from Pakistan, to Sven, an ex–fighter pilot—grapples with the questions and subjects most important to narrative craft. Delving into their varied lives, Rosenblatt brings readers closer to them, emotionally investing us in their failures and triumphs.

More than a how-to for writers and aspiring writers, more than a memoir of teaching, Unless It Moves the Human Heart is a deeply felt and impassioned plea for the necessity of writing in our lives. As Rosenblatt wisely reminds us, “Writing is the cure for the disease of living. Doing it may sometimes feel like an escape from the world, but at its best moments it is an act of rescue.”

From PW “Less a how-to book than a measured reflection on teaching, the work nonetheless offers aspiring writers many concrete suggestions (let your nouns do the work; go for imagination over invention; write with “restraint, precision, and generosity”). And the oft-invoked words of other authors should resonate with readers and writers alike.”

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The Writing Life    by     Annie Dillard The Writing Life by Annie Dillard. $ 1.99.

From the Jacket Copy:

Annie Dillard has written eleven books, including the memoir of her parents, An American Childhood; the Northwest pioneer epic The Living; and the nonfiction narrative Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. A gregarious recluse, she is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

With color, irony and sensitivity, Pulitzer prize-winner Annie Dillard illuminates the dedication absurdity, and daring that is the writer’s life. As it probes and exposes, examines and analyzes, The Writing Life offers deeper insight into one of the most mysterious of professions.

The Chicago Tribune suggests this is a book for writers and nonwriters “For nonwriters, it is a glimpse into the tirals and satisfactions of a life spent with words. For writers, it is a warm, rambling, conversation with a stimulating and extraordinarily talented colleague. “

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. jeayci
    Nov 19, 2012 @ 15:20:47

    Thanks, looks like I’ll be adding to Mount TBR! :D I own On Writing Well in paper, so I appreciate the opportunity to get it in ebook for so little. And the others look like nice additions to the library, too.

  2. cleo
    Nov 19, 2012 @ 16:20:42

    Ooo, the Annie Dillard looks good. As a visual artist, I really love reading how-to books in other creative fields. I almost always learn something about the creative process and I feel less guilty if I don’t take their advice, because hey, I’m not a writer / dancer etc.

  3. Turophile
    Nov 19, 2012 @ 18:27:19

    On writing well has been a favorite of mine for ages and have reread it frequently. I highly recommend for anyone interested in writing, particularly non-fiction writers.

  4. SandyH
    Nov 19, 2012 @ 21:35:43

    I own On Writing Well and highly recommend it. I was fortunate to hear a lecture by Zinsser at the University of Delaware when I was a grad student.

  5. Becky Black
    Nov 20, 2012 @ 00:45:11

    Thanks for the heads up on these. I already have How Not to Write a Novel and it’s not just useful but very entertaining. Great for picking up and re-reading a couple of the entries when you have a minute.

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