What should a writer write about? The all-too-common answer is: “Write what you know.” But in his book The Art of Fiction, John Gardner (above) blows away that dusty dictum, warning that “Nothing is more limiting to the imagination.”
I read that statement by Gardner years ago, when I was learning to write, and it thrilled me. It was a jolt of liberation. It gave me the courage to free my imagination.
So now, after having ten novels published, I give emerging writers this advice: “Write about what fascinates you; just go out and know it.” It’s called research, this getting to know your subject, and whether you glean the information from books, Internet searches, interviews, or walking in the footsteps of your characters, it’s all fuel for your art.
Here, I offer my list of 10 indispensable books about writing to liberate your imagination: Barbara Kyle’s Top 10 Picks.
The wisdom in these books ranges from E.M. Forster’s eye-opening maxim about causality being at the heart of plot; to bestselling author Elizabeth George’s down-to-earth tips on craft, spiked with her vivid personal insights on the creative process; to Stephen King’s famous witticism, “The road to hell is paved with adverbs,” to the dissection of story structure that was mind-altering for me at the start of my writing career: Robert McKee’s Story. Plus my own book, Page-Turner with tips on how to create a story that leaves your readers saying “I couldn’t put it down!”
Give yourself the gift of these inspiring guides. To see the list, click here.
All my best,