You might want to consider this forgotten classic about the craft
‘’[T]his is the best book ever written about how to write!’’ Carl Sandburg
A young man approached me recently, saying he wanted to start writing. I read one of his pieces, saw potential, complimented him . . . then beat the living hell out of his piece.
His grammar was fine. The story flowed fairly well.
I beat on the story for its style, rewriting paragraphs and deleting cliched’ writing.
But what I really wanted to criticize was his approach.
I wanted to say, “This is fine and honestly shows a lot of potential, but it oozes prose that tells me you’re not really interested in the art of writing. You need to strip down to your underwear — to your attitude, your disposition, your entire writerly outlook — and start over.”
I couldn’t bring myself to say such a thing, primarily because I do think he has potential and didn’t trust my ability to convey such a heavy message without crushing him.
So instead I focused on the style issues.
And then sent him Barbara Ueland’s If You Want to Write.
Leisure, the basis of writing
I rarely see Ueland’s book referenced, but it has remained in print since its first publication in 1938 for a reason.