These books taught and motivate me to write better
Violence is more meaningful and helps your story if readers get to know the victims and the perpetrators.
Stoner is a writing master class. The pacing and structure are faultless. Every chapter, every scene, every sentence begins and ends exactly where it should.
The key to good travel writing is accepting that the physical journey is never the real story. William Least Heat-Moon's Blue Highways demonstrates how you blend physical and metaphysical journeys.
Ever wondered what people really mean by 'show, don't tell?" If in doubt, read Cormac McCarthy's The Road.
Waugh's preternatural ability to observe and describe people helps him walk the fine line between sentiment and cheese. Readers will move the line between drama and melodrama depending on how much they care about the characters.
Controlling details can help you write about personal tragedy. Controlling perspective helps your reader sympathise with it.
Less really is more.
Less isn't more when more is more.
Your characters are allowed to be happy. At least for a little while.
Stories about small things can help you write about big things. The simplest of words can be arranged to make the most sophisticated sentences.