There’s a lot of great writing advice out there on the Net … there’s also some that I think it is a bit suspect.
I prefer to listen to the guys with the runs on the board. Even then, I don’t agree with all of it:
1. “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
- Ernest Hemingway.
I know some writers who feel that way; others find it a joy.
It’s worth remembering that Ernest had four wives and ended it all with a shotgun.
If Kurt Vonnegut suffered for his art, he preferred to take it out on his characters:
2. “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.”
- Kurt Vonnegut
The author of ‘Get Shorty’, who we sadly lost this year, believed as Hemingway did, that the simpler the prose, the better it was.
3. “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”
- Elmore Leonard
In fact, we seem to pretty much have a consensus here:
4. “If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out. Never use a long word where a short one will do.”
And it’s one of the hardest lessons to learn.
I used to drive my agent nuts with my ‘florid, horrid sunsets’ as he called them until I learned I was so much better off without them …
5. “Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”
- Stephen King
And make sure they stay dead! Here’s how another great minimalist did it:
6. “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’ – your editor will delete it and every sentence will be as it should be.”
They probably won’t delete ‘damn’ for you these days, so let’s just refine our sentences ourselves.
And here’s another piece of excellent writing advice from Neil Gaiman.
7. “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.”
It’s true. Agents and editors should not know more than you about the writing craft. Listen to them if they say it doesn’t work.
But unless you’re a born genius, maybe you need to have your ten thousand hours under your belt to know what comes next.
8. “If you want to be a writer you must do two things above all others; read a lot and write a lot.”
- Stephen King
This way we can perhaps see both sides of the prism simultaneously.
If we can, maybe we can sell as many books as this guy …
9. “I’m always pretending that I’m sitting across from somebody. I’m telling them a story and I don’t want them to get up until it’s finished.”
- James Patterson.
And a final word!
on the finer points!
‘Cut out all those exclamation marks. An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own jokes.”
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
‘Laugh at your own jokes.’
- Neil Gaiman
ISABELLA, Braveheart of France.
I’D LOVE YOU TO SUBSCRIBE TO MY EMAIL LIST – IT’S DIFFERENT TO SUBSCRIBING TO THE BLOG, YOU’LL GET THE CHANCE TO GET FREE BOOKS AND OFFERS.
YOU WILL NOT GET SPAMMED – JUST NEWS ABOUT MY BOOKS EVERY 3-4 WEEKS THAT I AM NOT PUTTING HERE ON MY BLOG.