There are a lot of books on creative writing to choose from. However, most of them focus on the "plot" aspect of writing, and those books that talk about prose are usually very beginner-level (with general advice like "use short sentences", "don't use adverbs", "don't use passives" etc).

I'm trying to find an advanced book on creative writing that focuses on prose, and goes in-depth on how to choose the right words from many synonyms, how sentence structure affects the perception by the reader, how to achive different effects by manipulating prose, how to use literary devices etc.

For example, this video discusses exactly what I'm interested in: Novel writing session 10: Just the right words - YouTube

Problem is: it's just a single 20min video. Not much.

Can you suggest a book or a resource on this topic?

  • There is no literary 'brown noise', no sequence of words that will snap a reader into mind-slave hypnosis. From 0:20-0:40 in the video (starting with "How we use words") she's saying the opposite: words are effective because of context: associated meanings and emotional impact. The words match the situation and the writer's agenda. Re-watch the video, she lists context, POV of the narrator, character development, and story tone as deciding factors in word choice.... She never says 'literary devices' or 'sentence structure' are effective to manipulate readers.
    – wetcircuit
    Nov 7, 2021 at 12:07
  • 2
    @wetcircuit Where did I say anything about mind-slave hypnosis or manipulating the readers - did you just make it up? And I wasn't asking for an opinion. If you think that working on prose is pointless and you can get by without it, then good for you. I was asking for resources on a specific topic. Whether you like it or not, this topic is a thing. If you wanted to convince me that this topic is useless, then this attempt was misplaced, pointless and uncalled for. Or perhaps you just didn't understand what I was asking about.
    – A.V. Arno
    Nov 7, 2021 at 21:20

1 Answer 1


John Gardner's "The Art of Fiction" helped me focus on making sentences and paragraphs tighter and stronger.

The book had been recommended a number of times in workshops and books on writing. I tried reading the book a couple of times and before getting out of part one, I wanted to throw the book across the room--philistine that I am.

But, when I read part two, "Notes on the Fictional Process," I understood how the book is helpful. Two quick examples: p 98 deals with what Gardner talks about as "...unnecessary filtering." And a wonderful section entitled The Sentence on page 148, discusses the sounds of a sentence. He goes into short and long words, but goes on to talk about the poetry of prose: how a sentence sounds the best.

Hopes this helps. Sid

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