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The Big Yellow Book

Seeing the World from Both Oculars-- a Bananaslug's Journal

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50 books to learn writing from...
Mike Kabongo, longtime barfly and most recently an authors' agent, posted this on Baen's Bar and I thought it was worth re-posting:

From: Mike Kabongo

The person I was talking about wants to write and reccomend good sf/f so
this is vaguely what I told him. But I'm mostly interested in what other
people consider influential books.

Robin Hobb's Liveship Trader books: Consistent magic, dark, great if
nonflashy prose.

The Bujold books: Miles, Mark, Caz, Ista, contrast the main characters, pay
attention to the in jokes.

Bardbury's 451F: probably THE best polemic great example of dense writing.

Huxley's "A Brave New World": the ultimate (for its time) in bad science and
dystopian maundering.

Tepper's Family Tree: An unintentional guide to letting the Point become
more important than the plot, or the characters.

Lackey's Magic/Vanyel trilogy: How to make a whiny brat a likeable human
being, and balance an foreign culture with the rest of what goes into the

C.E. Murphy's Urban Shaman: How to make the guiding principles of good
action writing invisible and effective. Those principle being summed up as
"KISS and Go" and "Show Don't Tell"

Freer's A Mankind Witch: How to make a 300,000 word BFF fit into 125k words.

Weber's "Shadow of Saganami" and "Honor Among Enemies": How to do ensemble
casts, and keep them clear, consistent, and moving forward.

Williamson "The Weapon": How to redeem a total bastard of a main character.

Freer + Flint "Pyramid Scheme" and "Pyramid Power": How to make an ensemble
cast, how to have a book that is funny front to back and not be guilty of
trying too hard.

C.S. Lewis "Perelandra" how even a good writer can go too far and make the
point a problem.

Bradbury: "M is for Mars" collection: Quality shorts.

Card "Enders Game"; How to write a very smart child _right_.

Rowling "The Potter Books"; a great example in what lack of quality control
can do.

Jones, Diana Wynne "Deep Secret"; how to insert half a thousand fen in-jokes
into a book and still make it fun for outsiders.

Jones, Diana Wynne: "Dark Mage of Derkholm"; How to insert thousands of in
jokes and clichés and still make a series well worth the read.

The OnyxHawke
Remember the ROUS

There's one thing everyone should understand: I like my character. - Dennis