How to Write
Sometimes you need more than a pencil and paper.
Come and browse our display of books on writing, or click through to reserve the books you need.
Syllabus: Notes of an accidental professor by Lynda Barry $35
A very enjoyable set of writing classes presented graphically, especially good for those who appreciate the cross-fertilising potential of visual and verbal creativity.
Six Memos for the Next Millennium by Italo Calvino $24
"Words connect the visible track to the invisible thing, like a fragile makeshift bridge cast across the void." Calvino explores what he regards as the cardinal virtues of literature: Lightness, Quickness, Multiplicity, Exactitude and Visibility (Constancy was to be the sixth, but Calvino died while writing this book). Very thoughtful.
How to Write Like Tolstoy: A journey into the minds of our greatest writers by Richard Cohen $22
"This book is a wry, critical friend to both writer and reader. It is filled with cogent examples and provoking statements. You will agree or quarrel with each page, and be a sharper writer and reader by the end." - Hilary Mantel
Literature Class by Julio Cortázar $40
Cortazar's novels and short stories ignited a whole generation of Latin American writers, and had an enthusiastic following through the Americas and Europe. In this series of masterclasses he discusses his approach to the problems and mechanisms of fiction writing: the short story form, fantasy and realism, musicality, the ludic, time and the problem of 'fate'.
"Anyone who doesn't read Cortazar is doomed." - Pablo Neruda
The Very Short Story Starter: 101 flash fiction prompts for creative writing by John Gillard $35
Useful and fun, this workbook will help you think about your writing in different ways, and find ways to incorporate it into your daily routines.
The Situation and the Story: The art of personal narrative by Vivian Gornick $32
In a story or a novel the "I" who tells this tale can be, and often is, an unreliable narrator but in nonfiction the reader must always be persuaded that the narrator is speaking truth. How does one pull from one's own boring, agitated self the truth-speaker who will tell the story a personal narrative needs to tell?
The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr $35
"Karr is a national treasure-that rare genius who's also a brilliant teacher. This joyful celebration of memoir packs transcendent insights with trademark hilarity. Anyone yearning to write will be inspired, and anyone passionate to live an examined life will fall in love with language and literature all over again. " - George Saunders
I Should Be Writing: A writer's workshop by Mur Lafferty $23
Prompts! Exercises! Encouragement!
Write to the Point: How to be clear, correct and persuasive on the page by Sam Leith $33
Writing effectively is partly a matter of not making common mistakes and partly a matter of learning a few key skills.
Write to the Centre: Navigating life with gluestick and words by Helen Lehndorf $35
On the use of collage journaling to prepare the mind for writing.
Juicy Writing: Inspiration and techniques for young writers by Brigid Lowry $24
Doodle, daydream and discover your creativity - then write hard into the wild land of your imagination.
Letters to a Young Writer: Some practical and philosophical advice by Colum McCann $25
Create Your Own Universe: How to invent stories, characters and ideas by The Brothers McLeod $25
Young creative types can use this book to accelerate their ideas for stories, animations, graphic novels, films, books, &c (and have a lot of fun, too).
Draft No.4: On the process of writing by John McPhee $37
A very useful guide for writers, especially on the aspects of a work, such as structure, that should go unnoticed by the reader.
>> Read an excerpt.
"A master class in writing. Every sentence sparkles. A superb book." - Kirkus
"Matchless teaching from a master of the form—seductive, trustworthy and endearingly modest." - Helen Garner
Notable for its range of writing exercises devised specifically for those writing for children.
The Exercise Book: Creative writing exercises from Victoria University's Institute of Modern Letters edited by Bill Manhire, Ken Duncum, Chris Price and Damien Wilkins $35
Fifty writing exercises and countless triggers. Great stuff. Includes contributions from Elanor Catton, Curtis Sittenfeld, Emily Perkins, David Vann, Elizabeth and Sara Knox, Dora Malech and Kirsty Gunn.
The Kite and the String: How to write with spontaneity and control - and live to tell the tale by Alice Mattison $35
"An insightful guide to the stages of writing fiction and memoir without falling into common traps, while wisely navigating the writing life, from an award-winning author and longtime teacher.
A book-length master class." - The Atlantic
Writing True Stories: The complete guide to writing autobiography, memoir, personal essay, biography, travel and creative non-fiction by Patti Miller $40
The Story Cure: A book doctor's pain-free guide to finishing your novel or memoir by Dinty W. Moore $35
A pharmocopoeia of cures for writer's block, plotting and characterization issues, and other ailments writers face when completing a novel or memoir, prescribed by the director of creative writing at Ohio University.
A Primer for Poets and Readers of Poetry by Gregory Orr $26
Writing exercises, topics such as the personal and cultural threshold, the four forces that animate poetic language, tactics of revision, ecstasy and engagement as motives for poetry.
The Fuse Box: Essays on creative writing from Victoria University's International Institute of Modern Letters edited by Emily Perkins and Chris Price $35
Contributions from James Brown, Elizabeth Knox, Tina Makereti, Damien Wilkins, Bill Manhire, Charlotte Wood, Ashleigh Young and Hera Lindsay Bird.
Daemon Voices: Essays on storytelling by Philip Pullman $38
Interesting and enjoyable considerations of storymaking from the author of 'His Dark Materials', 'The Book of Dust', 'Sally Lockhart', &c.
Exercises in Style by Raymond Queneau $25
Take one small banal story about a man on a bus and a remark about a button, and rewrite it ninety-nine times according to different constraints, from sonnet to antiphrasis, from onomatopoeia to metaphor, from Dog Latin to double entry, from the gastronomical to the abusive, and you come up with a book that is inventive, erudite and very funny. Raymond Queneau is a verbal acrobat of the first order. Reading this book is to attend a circus of rigours - be prepared to be exhilarated.
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke $3
Advice on writing, love, sex, suffering, writing (again) and the nature of advice.
Reality Hunger: A manifesto by David Shields $30
“Who owns the words? Who owns the music and the rest of our culture? We do. All of us. Though not all of us know it, yet. Reality cannot be copyrighted.” At once iconoclastic and appropriative (most of the book is comprised of unattributed quotes from everyone from from Burroughs to Barthes, from Plutarch to Picasso, from Thoreau to Joyce), Shields maintains that actuality provides sufficient material for creative pursuit and that nothing needs to be (or can be) a game of 'let's pretend'. Shields is bored with the novel, he is fed up with the made up, he wants more immediacy, less artifice, more pace, he wants to be a ‘wisdom junkie’, he wants to feel really alive, he longs to escape his jaded state in the arms of the lyric essay or the memoir. Shields is against fiction (at least in the way it is generally understood), but he is ambiguous about 'reality', too: "There are no facts, only art." As an impassioned call for relevance, excitement and innovation in literature, Reality Hunger makes a challenge that deserves to be met.
13 Ways of Looking at a Novel: What to read and how to write by Jane Smiley $36
A good overview of the purpose, qualities and potentials of a novel, with consideration of 101 novels from the entire history of the form.
The Writer's Diet by Helen Sword $25
A useful handbook for trimming the fat from your prose, leaving it lean, toned and fit for any purpose.
>> Is your writing flabby or fit? Take the test.
Pilot 2018: A diary for writers $15 (half price!)
An excellent diary with deadlines, writers' events, tips and ways to keep yourself both motivated and organised.