Monday, December 3, 2012

Writing Advice by the Famous

A couple years ago, UK's The Guardian ran a list of dos and don'ts of writing fiction by well-known writers. Here are some highlights:

"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." —P.D. James, British mystery author

"Beware of clichés. Not just the ­clichés that Martin Amis is at war with. There are clichés of response as well as expression. There are clichés of observation and of thought—even of conception. Many novels, even quite a few adequately written ones, are ­clichés of form which conform to clichés of expectation." —Geoff Dyer, British journalist

"Style is the art of getting yourself out of the way, not putting yourself in it." —David Hare, British playwright and theatre and film director

Never complain of being misunderstood. You can choose to be understood, or you can choose not to." —David Hare

"A story needs rhythm. Read it aloud to yourself. If it doesn't spin a bit of magic, it's missing something." —Esther Freud, British novelist and actress

"Trust your reader. Not everything needs to be explained. If you really know something, and breathe life into it, they'll know it too." —Esther Freud

"The reader is a friend, not an adversary, nor a spectator." —Jonathan Franzen

"Don't read your reviews. Don't write reviews. (Your judgment's always tainted.)" —Richard Ford, American novelist

"Don't drink and write at the same time." —Richard Ford

And perhaps the most obvious and the most important:

"Write. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down. Finish what you're writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it." —Neil Gaiman, British author