Being one of the most well developed methods of information sharing (aside from auditory conveyance), the practice of writing has been discussed and debated for countless years. While I can spend every moment of every day sharing with you my own methods and ideas about the process of story creation and what it means to be a writer, it’s often through the more developed and refined ideas of the worlds most seasoned professionals, that the greatest nuggets of writing wisdom present themselves.
These are often opinions and are open to defiance. Many of the greatest authors succeed primarily because they’ve been able to break the conventional boundaries and push the limits of the craft, while others find their success in rigid conformity to a set of defined principles. With that in mind, I’d like to share with you some quotes from the crafts masters that I’ve found to be particularly helpful, revealing or just plain inspirational.
“Read, read, read. Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.” – William Faulkner
“Never use a long word where a short one will do.” – George Orwell
“Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.” – Kurt Vonnegut
“The most important things to remember about back story are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn’t very interesting.” – Stephen King
“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” – Elmore Leonard
“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people, not characters. A character is a caricature.” – Ernest Hemingway
“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!” – Dr. Seuss
“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.” – Mark Twain
“If you are using dialogue – say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.” – John Steinbeck
“To write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write.” – Gertrude Stein
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway
“I write for the same reason I breathe … because if I didn’t, I would die.” – Isaac Asimov
“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” – Robert Frost
“To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it.” – Herman Melville
“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath
“The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.” – Agatha Christie
“The first draft of anything is shit.” – Ernest Hemingway
“When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.” – Stephen King
“I do not over-intellectualize the production process. I try to keep it simple: Tell the damned story.” – Tom Clancy
“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” – Anne Frank
“Anything is possible if you’ve got enough nerve.” – J.K. Rowling
Write on Writers!