Posts Tagged ‘Writing tips’

John Steinbeck

“If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.”

–from “Six Tips on Writing from John Steinbeck

Mark Twain

“As to the adjective: when in doubt, strike it out. . . . don’t let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in.”

— quoted in “12 Timeless Writing Tips from Mark Twain

p.d. james (more…)

William Gibson

“[I]n science fiction I think the classic advice from Robert Heinlein was, in order to be a writer you had to finish what you wrote, submit what you’d written for publication, and without waiting to see whether it was rejected or accepted, start writing something else, which you’d then finish. And when the first piece was rejected, you’d immediately submit it somewhere else. Heinlein said that if you simply kept doing that, you’d become by default a writer, and eventually a published one. . . . [M]y advice would be even simpler than that — although that’s really good advice, because if you skip any of Heinlein’s steps you’re not likely to become a published writer. . . . [G]ood fiction is written by people who’ve read a lot of fiction. That seems to be the common denominator. If you think you want to be a writer but you don’t like reading, you should look at that . . . So I would recommend that people read a lot, and as broadly as possible, and then I would suggest that people write a lot. You have to have written a very good deal in order to become really good at it. And if you do it often enough and pay sufficient attention, you’re much more likely to get somewhere than if you don’t.”

— “William Gibson riffs on writing and the future

Cory Doctorow

“Don’t research. Researching isn’t writing and vice-versa. When you come to a factual matter that you could google in a matter of seconds, don’t. Don’t give in and look up the length of the Brooklyn Bridge, the population of Rhode Island, or the distance to the Sun. That way lies distraction — an endless click-trance that will turn your 20 minutes of composing into a half-day’s idyll through the web. Instead, do what journalists do: type ‘TK’ where your fact should go, as in ‘The Brooklyn bridge, all TK feet of it, sailed into the air like a kite.’ ‘TK’ appears in very few English words . . . so a quick search through your document for ‘TK’ will tell you whether you have any fact-checking to do afterwards.”

— “Cory Doctorow: Writing in the Age of Distraction

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

“If you are bored with writing, you will bore the reader.”

— “16 Tips from García Márquez for Aspiring Writers

(The too literal translation of this quote in “16 Tips” reads, “If one is bored of writing, one will bore the reader.”)

Margaret Atwood


“I think the thing to emphasize is that writing is a gambler’s profession. There is no guarantee of anything. You can put in a lot of time, a lot of effort, invest a great deal of emotional energy, and nothing may come out of it. There are no guarantees. So, unless one is fairly committed and willing to make that investment, don’t do it.”

–“Seven Tips for Writers from Margaret Atwood