Friday, July 08, 2005

Writing Quotes

Keep in mind that the person to write for is yourself. Tell the story that you most desperately want to read.
-Susan Issacs

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately no one knows what they are. - W. Somerset Maugham

The act of writing is the act of discovering what you believe.
-David Hare

Writers must rely more on the feel of a sentence than on the dictates of a rule book. - James J. Kilpatrick, from The Writers Art

The best stories don't come from "good vs. bad" but from "good vs. good." - Leo Tolstoy

What I like in a good author isn't what he says, but what he whispers. - Logan Pearsall Smith

There is but one art, to omit! - Robert Louis Stevenson

Vigorous writing is concise. - William Strunk, Jr., from The Elements of Style

Omit needless words. - William Strunk, Jr., from The Elements of Style

A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. - William Strunk, Jr., from The Elements of Style

The most valuable of talents is never using two words when one will do. - Thomas Jefferson

In composing, as a general rule, run a pen through every other word you have written; you have no idea what vigor it will give your style. - Sydney Smith

Short words are best and the old words when short are best of all. - Winston Churchill

One of your first jobs, as you write for money, will be to get rid of your vocabulary. - Jack Woodford

It is with words as with sunbeams -- the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn. - Robert Southey

Words are the coins making up the currency of sentences, and there are always too many small coins. - Jules Renard

My most important piece of advice to all you would-be writers: when you write, try to leave out all the parts readers skip. - Elmore Leonard

Say all you have to say in the fewest possible words, or your reader will be sure to skip them; and in the plainest possible words or he will certainly misunderstand them. - John Ruskin

Sit down, and put down everything that comes into your head and then you're a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff's worth, without pity, and destroy most of it. - Colette, from Casual Chance

Kill your darlings. - William Faulkner

Read over your compositions, and wherever you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out. - Samuel Johnson

As to the adjective, when in doubt, strike it out. -- Mark Twain

When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don't mean utterly, but kill most of them -- then the rest will be valuable. - Mark Twain

God only exhibits his thunder and lightning at intervals, and so they always command attention. These are God's adjectives. You thunder and lightning too much; the reader ceases to get under the bed, by and by. - Mark Twain

A successful book is not made of what is in it, but what is left out of it. - Mark Twain

You become a good writer just as you become a good joiner: by planing down your sentences. - Anatole France

Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it and, above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light. - Joseph Pulitzer

If an man wishes to write in a clear style, let him be first clear in his thoughts; and if he would write in a noble style, let him first possess a noble soul. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

When in doubt have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand. - Raymond Chandler

The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly suspects that there is anything funny about it. - Mark Twain

The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is that you really want to say. - Mark Twain

Writers should work alone. They should see each other only after their work is done, and not too often then. Otherwise they become like the writers in New York. - Ernest Hemingway, from Green Hills of Africa

A good title should be like a good metaphor. It should intrigue without being too baffling or too obvious. - Walker Percy

The title to a work of writing is like a house's front porch.... It should invite you to come on in. - Angela Giles Klocke

A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction. - Virginia Woolf

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it an hour when it isn't expecting it. - H. G. Wells

Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois so that you may be violent and original in your work. - Gustave Flaubert

Suit the action to the word, the word to the action. - William Shakespeare

Usually, when people get to the end of a chapter, they close the book and go to sleep. I deliberately write a book so when the reader gets to the end of the chapter, he or she must turn one more page. When people tell me I've kept them up all night, I feel like I've succeeded. - Sidney Sheldon

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. - Cyril Connolly

Don't mistake a good setup for a satisfying conclusion -- many beginning writers end their stories when the real story is just ready to begin. - Stanley Schmidt

Nighttime is really the best time to work. All the ideas are there to be yours because everyone else is asleep. - Catherine O'Hara

Why shouldn't truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to make sense. - Mark Twain

The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense. - Tom Clancy

A writer's voice is not character alone, it is not style alone; it is far more. A writer's voice line the stroke of an artist's brush -- is the thumbprint of her whole person -- her idea, wit, humor, passions, rhythms. - Patricia Lee Gauch

Show don't tell. - Henry James

If you tell me, it's an essay. If you show me, it's a story. - Barbara Greene

Don't say the old lady screamed -- bring her on and let her scream. - Mark Twain

Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. - Anton Chekhov

Find what gave you the emotion; what the action was that gave you the excitement. Then write it down making it clear so the reader will see it too and have the same feeling as you had. - Ernest Hemingway, from By-Line

If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it. - Toni Morrison

Cut out all those exclamation marks. An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke. - F. Scott Fitzgerald

First drafts are for learning what your novel or story is about. - Bernard Malamud

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader. - Robert Frost, from the preface of Collected Poems

The secret of good writing is to say an old thing in a new way or to say a new thing in an old way. - Richard Harding Davis

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. - Mark Twain

The most original thing a writer can do is write like himself. It is also the most difficult task. - Robertson Davies

If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing. - Benjamin Franklin

Of all the needs a book has, the chief need is that it be readable. - Anthony Trollope, from An Autobiography

The first duty of the novelist is to entertain. - Donna Tartt, from a USA Today interview, October 14, 2002

I would never write about anyone who is not at the end of his rope. - Stanley Elkin

The secret of successful fiction is a continual slight novelty. - Edmund Gosse

Learn to write well, or not to write at all. - Dryden, from Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure. - Samuel Johnson

When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into its writing. - Enrique Jardiel Poncela

Our admiration of fine writing will always be in proportion to its real difficulty and its apparent ease. - Charles Caleb Colton

If you wish to be a writer, write. - Epictetus

Learn as much by writing as by reading. - Lord Acton

The more a man writes, the more he can write. - William Hazlitt

By writing much, one learns to write well. - Robert Southey

Get black on white. - Guy de Maupassant

Don't get it right, get it written. - James Thurber

Just get it down on paper, and then we'll see what to do about it. - Maxwell Perkins

Write a little every day, without hope and without despair. - Isak Dinesen

The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair. - Mary Heaton Vorse

You have to protect your writing time. You have to protect it to the death. - William Goldman

A man may write at any time, if he will set himself doggedly to it. - attributed to Samuel Johnson, from Life of Johnson by James Boswell

Three hours a day will produce as much as a man ought to write. - Anthony Trollope, from An Autobiography

If you wait for inspiration, you're not a writer, but a waiter. - Anonymous

You can't rely on inspiration. I don't even believe in inspiration. I just believe in working. - David Long

I know writers who write only when inspiration comes. How would Isaac Stern play if he played the violin only when he felt like it? He would be lousy. - Madeleine L'Engle

You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. - Jack London

The best way to become a successful writer is to read good writing, remember it, and then forget where you remember it from. - Gene Fowler

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. - William Faulkner

One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper pattern at the right moment. - Hart Crane

I learned to write by listening to people talk. I still feel that the best of my writing comes from having heard rather than having read. - Gayl Jones, quoted in Chant of Saints

I don't think anybody should write their autobiography until after they're dead. - Samuel Goldwyn

To produce a mighty work, you must choose a mighty theme. - Herman Melville

New writers are often told, "Write what you know." I would broaden that by saying, "Write what you know emotionally." - Marjorie Franco

The worst advice is to write about what you know. It's hard to see things fresh. - Donna Tartt

Write from what you know into what you don't know. - Grace Paley

I don't think any good book is based on factual experience. - Carlos Fuentes

Talent is helpful in writing, but guts are absolutely essential. - Jessamyn West

The great art of writing is knowing when to stop. - Josh Billings

Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader -- not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon. - E.L. Doctorow

Literature is like any other trade; you will never sell anything unless you go to the right shop. - George Bernard Shaw

The suspense of a novel is not only in the reader, but in the novelist, who is intensely curious about what will happen to the hero. - Mary McCarthy

Advice to young writers who want to get ahead without any annoying delays: don't write about Man, write about a man. - E. B. White

Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style. - Kurt Vonnegut

Any writer overwhelmingly honest about pleasing himself is almost sure to please others. - Marianne Moore

The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes. - Agatha Christie

The most original authors are not so because they advance what is new, but because they put what they have to say as if it had never been said before. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

In conversation you can use timing, a look, an inflection. But on the page all you have is commas, dashes, the amount of syllables in a word. When I write, I read everything out loud to get the right rhythm. - Fran Lebowitz

A writer's job is to imagine everything so personally that the fiction is as vivid as memories. - John Irving

Young writers should be encouraged to write, and discouraged from thinking they are writers. - Wallace Stegner

If a young writer can refrain from writing, he shouldn't hesitate to do so. - André Gide

If you want to get rich from writing, write the sort of thing that's read by persons who move their lips when they're reading to themselves. - Don Marquis

Plot springs from character.... I've always sort of believed that these people inside me -- these characters -- know who they are and what they're about and what happens, and they need me to help get it down on paper because they don't type. - Anne Lamott

Find out what your hero or heroine wants, and when he or she wakes up in the morning, just follow him or her all day. - Ray Bradbury

In your writing, be strong, defiant, forbearing. Have a point to make and write to it. Dare to say what you want most to say, and say it as plainly as you can. Whether or not you write well, write bravely. - Bill Stout

If you're going to write, don't pretend to write down. It's going to be the best you can do, and it's the fact that it's the best you can do that kills you. - Dorothy Parker

Whenever you write, whatever you write, never make the mistake of assuming the audience is any less intelligent than you are. - Rod Serling

If the stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. - Barry Lopez

The only obligation to which in advance we may hold a novel, without incurring the accusation of being arbitrary, is that it be interesting. - Henry James

The strokes of the pen need deliberation as much as the sword needs swiftness. - Julia Ward Howe

When rewriting, move quickly. It's a little like cutting your own hair. - Robert Stone

Never confuse movement with action. - Ernest Hemingway

You must be prepared to work always without applause. - Ernest Hemingway

I think it's a pretty good rule not to tell what a thing is about until it's finished. If you do you always seem to lose some of it. It never quite belongs to you so much again. - F. Scott Fitzgerald

Let your literary compositions be kept from the public eye for nine years at least. - Horace

Write about it by day, and dream about it by night. - E. B. White

Advice from this elderly practitioner is to forget publishers and just roll a sheet of copy paper into your machine and get lost in your subject. - E. B. White

If I had to give young writers advice, I would say don't listen to writers talking about writing or themselves. - Lillian Hellman

Whatever our theme in writing, it is old and tired. Whatever our place, it has been visited by the stranger, it will never be new again. It is only the vision that can be new; but that is enough. - Eudora Welty

There are significant moments in everyone's day that can make literature. That's what you ought to write about. - Raymond Carver

You write about the thing that sank its teeth into you and wouldn't let go. - Paul West

Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open. - Natalie Goldberg

You can't be afraid to deal with your demons. You've got to go there to be able to write. - Lucinda Williams

Write what will stop your breath if you don't write. - Grace Paley

Write the truest sentence that you know. - Ernest Hemingway

The object of the novelist is to keep the reader entirely oblivious of the fact that the author exists -- even of the fact he is reading a book. - Ford Madox Ford

Convince yourself that you are working in clay, not marble, on paper, not eternal bronze: let that first sentence be as stupid as it wishes. - Jacques Barzun

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. - Ray Bradbury

Love the writing, love the writing, love the writing ... the rest will follow. - Jane Yolen

Forget all the rules. Forget about being published. Write for yourself and celebrate writing. - Melinda Haynes

So this is always the key: you have to write the book you love, the book that's alive in your heart. That's the one you have to write. - Lurleen McDaniel

If a book comes from the heart, it will continue to reach other hearts. - Thomas Carlyle

You’ve got to sell your heart, your strongest reactions, not the little minor things that only touch you lightly, the little experiences that you might tell at dinner. This is especially true when you begin to write, when you have not yet developed the tricks of interesting people on paper, when you have none of the technique which it takes time to learn. When, in short, you have only your emotions to sell. - F. Scott Fitzgerald

Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. - Rainer Maria Rilke

A novelist must preserve a child-like belief in the importance of things which common sense considers of no great consequence. - W. Somerset Maugham

Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer. - Barbara Kingsolver

Writing comes more easily if you have something to say. - Sholem Asch

The conclusion is obvious: you cannot write anything that will convince unless you are yourself convinced. - W. Somerset Maugham

The man who writes about himself and his own time is the only man who writes about all people and about all time. - George Bernard Shaw



Katie the Scrapbook Lady


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