Guides to Literary Correctness

Treatises on the craft, compilations of advice, and gleanings from the work of writers writing on writing.

  1. Twenty-Two Poem Hacks (offsite). By Carmen Giménez Smith (as appeared on the Harriet blog), November 4, 2013.
  2. Zen in the Art of Writing. By Ray Bradbury, as appears in his collection by the same title, 1989.
  3. The Worst Muse (offsite). By Rachel Edidin. A compilation of very bad advice; simply do the opposite of what is advised. Being tweeted since sometime after the Twitter enrollment date of the author, December 2009.
  4. 33 Unusual Tips to Being a Better Writer (offsite). By James Altucher, March 2011.
  5. How to Build an Economic Model in your Spare Time (offsite). By Hal R. Varian, 1997/2009. Recommended by Cory Doctorow: "While the subject matter he highly specific, the advice he provides is much more generally applicable.'s such good advice for how to develop and present things that matter to you, and is very smart about anxiety about originality and presentation."
  6. Poetry in practice: mistakes poets make (offsite). Compiled by Roddy Lumsden (as appeared in Magma Poetry No. 31, Spring 2005).
  7. 36 Thoughts on Writing. By Susan Sontag, selected from her diary volumes published as As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964-1980.
  8. The 10 Rules of Writing. By Margaret Atwood, from a compilation assembled by The Guardian, inspired by Elmore Leonard's "10 Rules of Writing."
  9. Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle (offsite). By Elmore Leonard (as appeared in The New York Times, July 16, 2001
  10. 11 Commandments of Writing and Daily Creative Routine. By Henry Miller (as appears in Henry Miller on Writing)
  11. Pravic Commandments For New Science Fiction (offsite). By David Gill and Nathaniel Miller, of the magazine Pravic: A New Grammar for Science Fiction.
  12. Twenty rules for writing detective stories. By S. S. Van Dine, pseud. for Willard Huntington Wright. Originally published in American Magazine (1928), and included in the Philo Vance Investigates omnibus (1936).
  13. The Writer's Technique in Thirteen Theses. By Walter Benjamin, as appears in his 1928 treatise One-Way Street, in a section titled “Post No Bills” (and as is published in Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings; hat-tip to Mark Schorr for bringing this guide to our attention)
  14. Literary Composition. By H.P. Lovecraft (first published in the January, 1920 issue of The United Amateur). A listing of other essays along this line, including "Metrical Regularity" and "Notes on Writing Weird Fiction", appear at
  15. [How to write Star Trek episodes]. By Paramount in association with Norway Productions, dated 1967. This writers’ guide for the original Star Trek series show how early episodes were crafted and was meant to help writers for the year-old show—as well as prospective writers working on spec scripts—nail the tone and content of a typical episode.
  16. How To Write With Style. By Kurt Vonnegut, as appeared in a print format sponsored by International Paper Company (via the BoingBoing Flickr Pool, where it was uploaded by vintage ad archivist MewDeep)
  17. How To (and How Not To) Write Poetry. By Wisława Szymborska, from her poetry columns in Literary Life .
  18. I SUGGEST. By Basil Bunting, from Tamar Yoseloff's blog.
  19. How Not to Write Novel. By Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman.
  20. Nineteen Theses on Literature. By Roger Shattuck, as appeared in Essays in Criticism, Vol. XLV, No. 3.
  21. On Writing. By Jorge Luis Borges, as published by Penguin in 2010.
  22. The Name and Nature of Poetry. By A. E. Housman, 1933.
  23. Rules for Writing Fiction. Advice from Elmore Leonard, Diana Athill, Margaret Atwood, Roddy Doyle, Helen Dunmore, Geoff Dyer, Anne Enright, Richard Ford, Jonathan Franzen, Esther Freud, Neil Gaiman, David Hare, P.D. James, and A.L. Kennedy, compiled by the Guardian
  24. Writing Better. By Susan Snively, 1982, revised in 1983 and 1994, posted online in 2008.
  25. Chapter 2: Simplicity. By William Zinsser, 1995, from On Writing Well.
  26. Practical Tips on Writing a Book from 23 Brilliant Authors. By Steve Silberman, for the NeuroTribes blog, on June 2, 2011.
  27. How to Write a Sentence, and How to Read One. By Stanley Fish, 2011.
  28. The Study of Poetry. By Matthew Arnold, 1880.
  29. Exercises in Style (offsite, in French). By Raymond Queneau, 1947.
  30. Nineteen rules governing literary art. By Mark Twain, 1895.
  31. Observations on magazine fiction. By Colin Fleming, 2010.
  32. Hippocratic Oath for the Pluralist. By Wayne Booth, 1979.
  33. Hints for Writing Philosophy Papers (offsite). By Peter Bokulich, 2007.
  34. Write It Right: A Little Blacklist of Literary Faults. By Ambrose Bierce, 1909.
  35. The Underground Grammarian (offsite). By Richard Mitchell, 1972-1992.
  36. On copia of words and ideas (offsite). Latin: " De Utraque Verborum ac Rerum Copia. A handbook for those who value variety, especially Chapter 33 where Desiderius Erasmus famously demonstrates the variability of any expression by giving 195 variations on the sentence, "Your letter pleased me greatly" (1512).
  37. Sage advice on writing. Compiled by Citizendium editors between 2007-2009 (original).
  38. How To Deconstruct Almost Anything: My Postmodern Adventure (offsite). By Chip Morningstar, 1993.
  39. The Sheet of 26. By Robert Levine, this version 2007, original c.1985.
  40. Where to Put the F in Comma (offsite). By F.J. Bergmann, 2005.
  41. Tom's Glossary of Book Publishing Terms (offsite). e.g., "LITERATURE: Designation applied to titles judged unsaleable."
    By Thomas Christensen, 2008.
  42. Certayne Notes of Instruction. By George Gascoigne, 2005.
  43. The Rationale of Verse (offsite). By Edgar Allan Poe, 1848.
  44. The Poetic Principle (offsite). By Edgar Allan Poe, 1850.
  45. The Philosophy of Composition (offsite). By Edgar Allan Poe, 1846.
  46. Thirteen Writing Prompts (offsite). By Dan Wiencek, 2006.
  47. A Few Don'ts by an Imagiste (offsite). By Ezra Pound, 1913.
  48. Here's How to Finish that F***ing Book, You Monster (offsite). By Chuck Wendig, 2016.
  49. Writing for Television (offsite). Comments by Rod Serling during a series of interviews at Ithaca College, 1972.
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