On the Art of Writing
“If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.”
“If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that."
“Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very;' your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”
“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by."
“The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say.”
“Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
“Writing is like sex. First you do it for love, then you do it for your friends, and then you do it for money."
“When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.”
"Write your heart out.
The first sentence can be written only after the last sentence has been written. FIRST DRAFTS ARE HELL. FINAL DRAFTS, PARADISE.
You are writing for your contemporaries not for Posterity. If you are lucky, your contemporaries will become Posterity.
Keep in mind Oscar Wilde: A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.
When in doubt how to end a chapter, bring in a man with a gun. (This is Raymond Chandler's advice, not mine. I would not try this.)
Unless you are experimenting with form gnarled, snarled, & obscure be alert for possibilities of paragraphing.
Be your own editor/critic. Sympathetic but merciless!
Don't try to anticipate an ideal reader or any reader. He/she might exist but is reading someone else.
Read, observe, listen intensely! as if your life depended upon it.
Write your heart out."
Joyce Carole Oates
“Never open a book with weather.
Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue.
Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said”…he admonished gravely.
Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.
Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose."
Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
Don't go into great detail describing places and things.
Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip."
"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.
Read widely and with discrimination. Bad writing is contagious.
Don't just plan to write—write. It is only by writing, not dreaming about it, that we develop our own style.
Write what you need to write, not what is currently popular or what you think will sell.
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."
P D James
"Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
Start as close to the end as possible.
Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages."
"Genre fiction says: 'Forget the gas bill. Forget the office politics. Pretend you're a spy. Pretend you're a courtesan. Pretend you're the owner of a crumbling gothic mansion on this worryingly foggy promontory.' Literary fiction says: 'Bad luck. You're stuck with who you are, just as these people are stuck with who they are. But use your imagination and you'll see that even the most narrow, humdrum lives are infinite in scope if you examine them with enough care'."