Deren Hansen’s Verisimilitude: How Illusions, Confidence Games, and Skillful Lying can Improve Your Fiction is a pithy and readable guide to improving your writing. It’s ostensibly about writing fiction, but in fact I think a lot of the advice is applicable to writing of other kinds, including legal and academic writing.
Starting with two sets of writing commandments (one by Mark Twain and the other by Kurt Vonnegut), Hansen focuses less on issues like plot construction, character, and worldbuilding (though those come up), and more on issues like economy of prose, readability, maintaining the illusion, and making sense. He intersperses his instruction with relevant quotes from contemporary authors (Scott Westerfeld, Howard Tayler, Brandon Sanderson, Anne Gallagher) as well as classic names. Most of my favorite lines in the book, though, are Hansen’s own, such as this one:
Story is about cause and effect. We love good stories because we learn something about solving our own ￼problems by going along with the characters as they try to solve theirs.
This book like, like Hansen’s other Dunlith Hill Writing Guides, is well worth the small expense of money and time. My only gripe is that I’d like more of it.