Dostoevsky is my favorite dead author. It’s true. He can get inside a character’s head and give you every fleeting thought that crosses that character’s mind, and maintain it for 800 pages. He can make the most unredeemable characters seem sympathetic and pitiable, can make humanity seem chillingly heartless one moment and beautifully compassionate the next, and can make the mind and spirit of the human animal the most strange and wondrous labyrinth a reader could hope to be drawn into. My favorites of his books are Crime and Punishment, The Devils (also translated sometimes as The Possessed or Demons), and The Brothers Karamazov, although Notes from the Underground comes close. I’ve read his notes for several of his books – alternate endings, continuations, cut material, changed characters – and those were fascinating, too. I highly recommend the translation work of Constance Garnett for Russian novels in general, but particularly Dostoevsky, as she seems to get his sense of humor (yes, he does have one).
Middlemarch by George Elliot
One of my favorite novels of all time, Middlemarch impressed me deeply for its amazing interweaving of events and characters. The plot is essentially a tapestry of characters’ actions and their consequential effect on other characters in the community – often without the people in the story being the least bit aware of their part in the others’ stories. It’s simply the most brilliant book about interconnection I have ever read.
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
A precursor to the modern detective novel, The Moonstone is a great example of multiple first person point of view – each section of the book is narrated as a letter of sorts, given as evidence by witnesses and involved parties. Collins is excellent at creating different narrative voices for his separate characters’ testimonies, and not just in style and vocabulary – their self-awareness and attention to detail varies from person to person, as do their opinions of one another.
Three Men in a Boat (to Say Nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome
Funniest. Book. Ever.
Modern Literature & Genre
The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
The Chronicles of Amber series by Roger Zelazny
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Drood by Dan Simmons
In the Woods by Tana French
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
Resources & Recommendations for Writers:
Books on Writing:
- 3 AM Epiphany by Brian Kiteley (also the sequel, 4 AM Breakthrough) – excellent books of exercises, great for workshops or just to get you unstuck
- The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass – I cannot stress how awesome this book is. Great, clearly-written advice for all types, genres, and styles of fiction, with excerpts from books as examples and end-of-chapter exercises
- Bullies, Bastards And Bitches: How To Write The Bad Guys Of Fiction by Jessica Page Morrell – Some great tips and exercises on writing all types of characters, actually, but with a focus on the baddies
- The Story Structure Architect by Dr. Victoria Lynn Schmidt – For plotting advice, character development and story arc tips, this book is full of gems.
Predators & Editors’ guide to agents & publishers – http://pred-ed.com/pubagent.htm
Fiction Addiction’s writing prompts – http://www.fictionaddiction.net/Writing-Tools/Writing-Prompts/
NaNoWriMo official site, where you can sign up for official participation in National Novel Writing Month in November – http://www.nanowrimo.org/
Duotrope’s Digest, a great place to find short story markets – http://www.duotrope.com/index.aspx
This page is still in progress! I will be adding more as I think of and find more things to add!
I can’t believe you like Chronicles of Amber! I love that book and no one has heard of it!
Many thanks to my mom for introducing me to that series! It’s brilliant!! =D