My Terminus speech is now online here: A Few Things Writers Can Learn from "Harry Potter"
Also, I was talking with someone at Terminus about good books on writing, and I realized these are my four all-time favorites:
- The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. This will teach you how to write a clean, strong sentence and paragraph, and once you master those building blocks, you can build essays, stories, arguments -- entire books.
- The Poetics by Aristotle. Over 2,300 years ago, Aristotle identified nearly all the essential elements of a compelling plot and recorded them here. I often run through the elements he identified when trying to figure out why a story's not working.
- Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card (part of the Writers' Digest Elements of Writing series). Much more recently, Card anatomized what makes a compelling character and how you as a writer can get the reader to connect with your characters, not to mention how you can manipulate the point of view for different effects. Brilliant.
- Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. Reading this book is like having a friend teach you how to write: She gives you advice, encouragement, reassurance, and lots and lots of laughs.