The Best Simple Advice


To be a better writer:  READ. 

Here are the novels that have had the biggest impact on me as a writer.  They’ve taught me how to tell a story, how to write a sentence, how to make a plot, how to write a scene of dialogue.  They’ve proven to me that all good writing is about emotion.  They’ve taught me about life and about writing.  This is an ever-changing, evolving list, but today these are the most important novels to me (lots of poetry and nonfiction has been important, too, but I'm focusing here on fiction).

Isabel Allende-The House of the Spirits
Harriette Arnow-The Dollmaker
Margaret Atwood-Alias Grace, The Handmaid’s Tale
Larry Brown-Father and Son, Joe, Facing the Music
Chris Cleave-Little Bee
Emma Donoghoe-Room
Willa Cather-My Antonia, O Pioneers, Death Comes for the Archbishop, The Song of the Lark
Michael Dorris-A Yellow Raft in Blue Water
Louise Erdrich-Love Medicine,  The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No-Horse
Denise Giardina-Storming Heaven, The Unquiet Earth
Graham Greene-The Power and the Glory, The End of the Affair
Thomas Hardy-Jude the Obscure, The Woodlanders, Tess of the D’Urbervilles
S.E. Hinton-The Outsiders
Zora Neale Hurston-Jonah’s Gourd Vine, Their Eyes Were Watching God
Garbriel Garcia Marquez-Of Love and Other Demons, Chronicle of a Death Foretold
John Irving-A Prayer for Owen Meany
D.H. Lawrence-Sons and Lovers, The Fox
Harper Lee-To Kill a Mockingbird
Toni Morrison-Beloved
Micahel Onndaatje-Coming Through Slaughter
Marilynne Robinson-Housekeeping, Gilead, Home
Lee Smith-Fair and Tender Ladies, Saving Grace, Black Mountain Breakdown
Wallace Stegner-Angle of Repose
Alice Walker-The Color Purple



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