One of the most marvellous things about writing is that we are surrounded by teachers – literally all the books you read can teach you something (good or bad) about the art of writing. When you read the masters (those writers who have clearly figured out something very special in their genre), you can learn even more.
Here are some of our favourite lessons from some of our favourite master writers:
- Imagination tips for your writing from Roald Dahl
The much loved author of children’s books such as George’s Marvellous Medicine and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory can teach us about writing to involve the imagination entirely. Read more about Dahl’s talent for invention and oddball fantasy.
- What The Hobbit tells us about character development Tolkien’s widely loved epic fantasy series has it all – wizards, dragons, fearsome pit lords, romance, comradeship and a powerful, ominous antagonist. Read more about what you can learn from his great skill.
- Creating mood like Haruki Murakami The Japanese author has carved out a niche in the adventure story, writing strange but compelling fables that create a powerful sense of mood and disorientation. Learn more about Murakami’s mood-driven adventure pieces.
- Writing character like Nick Hornby Nick Hornby may be a ‘light’ writer, but his book such as About a Boy and High Fidelity are packed with vibrant characters who feel familiar and comforting. Read more about his character-writing tricks.
- Being honest like Elizabeth Gilbert Elizabeth Gilbert’s publishing phenomenon Eat, Pray, Love saw the author opening up about her personal life and sharing her intimate experiences and fears candidly. Read more about what writers can learn from Gilbert’s life-writing.
- What Anne Lamott can teach us about writing a memoir Anne Lamott’s book on writing Bird by Bird is a firm favourite. Read about her approach to memoir for insight on how to write true stories in a way that capture’s readers’ imagination.
- Write the future like Aldous Huxley The writer Aldous Huxley, like George Orwell, was prescient abouta developments in society and can teach us a lot about writing political work with inventive fictionalizing aplomb.
- How to write suspense like The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games became an overnight publishing success, due in large part to her skill at creating suspense and upping the stakes for her heroine Katniss. Read more about how Collins gets suspense and characterization right.
- Editing tips from Raymond Carver A large part of writing successful fiction is being a ruthless editor (or investing in an editor who will kill your darlings for you). Read these editing tips from short story legend Raymond Carver.