Literary Corner Cafe

Friday, March 18, 2011

Writing Tips - Learn From the Pros! Writing Tips From Writers - Part Two


Richard Ford

1. Marry somebody you love and who thinks you being a writer's a good idea.

2. Don't have children.

3. Don't read your reviews.

4. Don't write reviews. (Your judgment's always tainted.)

5. Don't have arguments with your wife in the morning, or late at night.

6. Don't drink and write at the same time.

7. Don't write letters to the editor. (No one cares.)

8. Don't wish ill on your colleagues.

9. Try to think of others' good luck as encouragement to yourself.

10. Don't take any s*** if you can possibly help it.

Jonathan Franzen

1. The reader is a friend, not an adversary, not a spectator.

2. Fiction that isn't an author's personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown isn't worth writing for anything but money.

3. Never use the word "then" as a conjunction – we have "and" for this purpose. Substituting "then" is the lazy or tone-deaf writer's non-solution to the problem of too many "ands" on the page.

4. Write in the third person unless a really distinctive first-person voice offers itself irresistibly.

5. When information becomes free and universally accessible, voluminous research for a novel is devalued along with it.

6. The most purely autobiographical fiction requires pure invention. Nobody ever wrote a more autobiographical story than The Metamorphosis.

7. You see more sitting still than chasing after.

8. It's doubtful that anyone with an Internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction.

9. Interesting verbs are seldom very interesting.

10. You have to love before you can be relentless.

Esther Freud

1. Cut out the metaphors and similes. In my first book I promised myself I wouldn't use any and I slipped up during a sunset in chapter 11. I still blush when I come across it.

2. A story needs rhythm. Read it aloud to yourself. If it doesn't spin a bit of magic, it's missing something.

3. Editing is everything. Cut until you can cut no more. What is left often springs into life.

4. Find your best time of the day for writing and write. Don't let anything else interfere. Afterward it won't matter to you that the kitchen is a mess.

5. Don't wait for inspiration. Discipline is the key.

6. Trust your reader. Not everything needs to be explained. If you really know something, and breathe life into it, they'll know it too.

7. Never forget, even your own rules are there to be broken.

Neil Gaiman

1. Write.

2. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.

3. Finish what you're writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.

4. Put it aside. Read it pretending you've never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.

5. Remember: when people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

6. Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.

7. Laugh at your own jokes.

8. The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you're allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it's definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I'm not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.

David Hare

1. Write only when you have something to say.

2. Never take advice from anyone with no investment in the outcome.

3. Style is the art of getting yourself out of the way, not putting yourself in it.

4. If nobody will put your play on, put it on yourself.

5. Jokes are like hands and feet for a painter. They may not be what you want to end up doing but you have to master them in the meanwhile.

6. Theatre primarily belongs to the young.

7. No one has ever achieved consistency as a screenwriter.

8. Never go to a TV personality festival masquerading as a literary festival.

9. Never complain of being misunderstood. You can choose to be understood, or you can choose not to.

10. The two most depressing words in the English language are "literary fiction."

PD James

1. Increase your word power. Words are the raw material of our craft. The greater your vocabulary the more effective your writing. We who write in English are fortunate to have the richest and most versatile language in the world. Respect it.

2. Read widely and with discrimination. Bad writing is contagious.

3. Don't just plan to write – write. It is only by writing, not dreaming about it, that we develop our own style.

4. Write what you need to write, not what is currently popular or what you think will sell.

5. Open your mind to new experiences, particularly to the study of other people. Nothing that happens to a writer – however happy, however tragic – is ever wasted.

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