If you’re reading this from America, you probably know both these books. Otherwise they might have passed you by. Personally, I discovered them quite late, by which time I already adhered to most of the principles in them. However, they summarise a lot of my views on writing clear and concise English language, so much so that I thought it worth blogging them here. Already famous in America, The Elements of Style was labelled one of the All-Time 100 Nonfiction Books by Time magazine – that is, one of the most influential books written in English since 1923. Otherwise called the Strunk and White (after its authors), this prescriptive language book is often forced upon students for its simple and effective rules. They are sometimes contentious, but mostly on point. The second book I want to highlight is Writing That Works, a business writing guide that novelist Louis Begley called “the Strunk and White of business writing” and famed advertiser David Ogilvy gave as his number 1 advertising tip: “read it three times”. Writing that Works is a similar style guide, from some of Madison Avenue’s most successful advertisers, and gives rules specific to communication. Continue reading
Let the Right One In is one of those rare books that works so well that it transcends genres. Every author wishes that of their book, to write a story that appeals beyond its target audience. If that’s what you’re after, this is a brilliant example of how writing a piece of solid genre fiction is the best way to broaden its appeal.
Trying to transcend genres is a dangerous game for a writer. I used to submit my fiction to agents and publishers under the banner of literary fiction. Like some kind of arsehole, I announced the unique character-depth and quirky twists in my tales could not be pigeon-holed. Not wanting to submit to one genre achieved one thing: no one wanted to read it. Let the Right One In fits its genre perfectly, and, quite the opposite of my abortive efforts, has instant appeal because of it. Continue reading