Advanced Books on Writing

For seasoned writers who rely upon clear and concise prose to get their point across, here are some more advanced texts on improving one’s writing craft.

To the Point: A Dictionary of Concise Writing by Robert Hartwell Fiske

When writing, simplify. If you can’t, read this book.

Edit Yourself: A manual for everyone who works with words by Bruce Ross-Larson

A comprehensive style manual including suggested edits and alternatives. I use this manual for my own editing.

Help! For Writers by Roy Peter Clark

210 tips, exercises and lessons for writers. If you’re stuck on a plateau and want a comprehensive program that’ll light a firecracker under your fingers, this is the book to get.

Language in Thought and Action, by S. I. Hayakawa

This book’s for thinking about words and how they create meaning rather than word choices, structure and what have you. Also handy for discovering your own biases and the biases of others. Essential for anyone who writes non-fiction or wants to get involved in the media. Also recommended: Amusing Ourselves to Death, by Neil Postman.

I Always Look Up the Word ‘Egregious’, by Maxwell Nurnberg

A vocabulary builder for people that don’t need one. A good start to expand your vocabulary and in time, your entire palette of meaning.

The Elements of Eloquence, by Mark Forsyth

aka, “How to turn the perfect English phrase.” A rundown of the elements of rhetoric and other embellishments that turn your copy into poetry, sweet poetry.

Hemingway App

A free app aiding concise and clear writing. It’s not perfect, but goes a long way helping you tighten copy.

The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century, by Steven Pinker

A new approach to style in the modern era. Cognitive scientist and linguist Pinker dissects language structure and form, different and differences between styles, and how to think more clearly and accurately about writing. Best read after you’ve absorbed the more “prescriptive” texts such as Elements of Style, etc.

Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch by Constance Hale

Verbs power writing, and this book features a boatload of exercises to rev your verb-writing engines. You’ll scratch your head after reading, wondering why your laurels ever rested on lazy adverbs!

Elementary Books on Writing

The first in my series of resources for writing clear and concise copy

If you've contemplated improving your writing by clearing it up and trimming the fat - you should do it. Clear and concise communication improves chances of saying what you mean and meaning what you say. Here are some of the elementary books on writing that I use and recommend.

The Elements of Style, by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White

If your writing resembles a frothing sumo wrestler, get this book and swallow down its advice every day like a regimen of vitamins. The most fundamental of fundamentals to good, clear copy are in this book.

Good Grammar, by Graham King

Does what it says on the spine.

If You Can Talk, You Can Write, by Joel Saltzman

One of the clearest, sharpest and most helpful books on writing there is. Packed full of fun vignettes, exercises and eye-openers. You’ll read it in a day and return to it constantly.

Choose the Right Word, by S. I. Hayakawa

A thesaurus of sorts, this book explains the precise shades of meaning for any word you’re struggling to come up with. Also recommended: Roget’s Thesaurus.

A Dictionary, by whomever

Get one that’s at least as big as your head. Refer to it often.