When getting your first draft down it is best to just write. Don’t think. Just write. And for me, that’s the only way I can ever get anything down on paper. I am an over thinker, but I have learned to put that aside, for a time. Once that first draft is finished, that is when I can no longer silence my analyzations, my questions, hesitations. Over thinking can be a gift, always working until I am completely satisfied with the result, or it can be the first step to a never ending cycle of rewrites. When I become caught up in unending rounds of questioning my judgment, rethinking and then requestioning my decisions, I turn to my definitive bible to put these uncertainties to rest.
The New Oxford Guide to Writing is considered to be the essential guide to english mechanics. Listed as a suggested reading before entering almost all of the top MFA programs, it is something that any self respecting writer should not be without.
Covering everything from the writing process, finding ideas and subjects to the composition of a sentence, clauses, and even that tricky concept of how to correctly use a semicolon. For a fairly short book, it gives a thorough explanation in easy to understand language of literary devices, language structure and effective style. There are even several examples and nonexamples for each item. Possibly the most critical of all is that the great oxford comma debate is finally resolved. Not to give away the results but I can say it was logical, decisive, and convincing.
One intriguing find within this book, which I have not found in any other writing reference, is a diagram illustrating the difference between denotation and connotation. As a writer who enjoys toying with these variations in my writing, I loved finding that others consider this often overlooked strategy just as seriously as I do.
When you get to that dreaded editing and revising stage, keep this book by you. Put your mind at ease knowing that this will be there to put to rest those demons plaguing your work. Aspiring writers have enough demons to battle as it is, without independent clauses jumping into the mixture as well.