Hi, and welcome back to Inspiration Wise. Today I am going to comment on some of the quotes I found interesting and relevant. Selecting the best writing tips from famous authors was harder than I thought, so maybe a second part will follow up soon. Hope you get inspired enough. Let’s go!
1. Mark Twain:
“Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream”
This is the classic epitome of show don’t tell. This approach immerses the reader and helps him explore the world you created through senses and actions, rather than images and description.
2. Stephen King:
“You can tell without even reading if the book you’ve chosen is apt to be easy or hard, right? Easy books contain lots of short paragraphs — including dialogue paragraphs which may only be a word or two long — and lots of white space…Paragraphs are almost as important for how they look as for what they say; they are maps of intent.”
How many times have you opened a book and saw a bunch of long paragraphs, barely any dialogue, and you left it aside, not buying it? To me, those types of books resemble a college textbook that I must learn by heart or else I will fail the exam. Upon seeing such a book, my brain automatically goes into a defense mode. You will not read this.
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This means that I will leave that book and spare my money or buy something else with an “easier story”. While you write, try to occasionally think about how your paragraphs look like to a reader who never saw your name before but should be inclined to buy your work. Help them decide to buy it by splitting up the paragraphs.
There is also another Steven King’s quote (I’m pretty sure it’s his, but I might be wrong) about finding everyday items, observing them and then tweaking them to make them creepy or weird. I love that one also because it shows the possibilities of writing a horror (which I’m so not good at!) and the ease in which it can be achieved. Once I find that quote I will update, and if you know it, please comment!
3. J. K. Rowling:
“Perseverance is absolutely essential, not just to produce all those words, but to survive rejection and criticism.”
Build your stamina. This way you will not only have a certain number of words and your book will be done, but you will also be capable of dealing with publishers rejecting you and looking for a new one. When you are capable of pressing enter each day, and start a new chapter on a new blank page, you are ready to do anything, simply because once you conquer yourself, you will handle others with ease.
4. Neil Gaiman:
“Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.”
First thing first – fix it. Find all the flaws you think you have and fix them.
Second thing second – he mentions perfection. Why move on if you were “so close to perfection”? Because you weren’t. It only looked as if you were. And by writing the next thing, you will see that in your past book, something was missing. But now you will know what it was and you will include it in the one you are writing now. But once you move onto the third – there it is again. Keep upgrading and eventually, you will notice that you are closer to perfection than you thought you were with your first book.
5. George R. R. Martin:
“In order to get inside their skin, I have to identify with them. That includes even the ones who are complete bastards, nasty, twisted, deeply flawed human beings with serious psychological problems. Even them. When I get inside their skin and look out through their eyes, I have to feel a certain — if not sympathy, certainly empathy for them. I have to try to perceive the world as they do, and that creates a certain amount of affection.”
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Identifying with your characters is an absolute must. This will help you sound authentic while telling a story. Now, this doesn’t mean that you must become an alcoholic to write one, but maybe speak to someone who has the issues you plan to instill in your character. Research and do your best to become close to the topic. That way you won’t have to pause your writing and look for answers, your character will provide them for you through the experience and knowledge you own.
6. George Orwell:
“As I have tried to show, modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug. The attraction of this way of writing is that it is easy.” … “By using stale metaphors, similes, and idioms, you save much mental effort, at the cost of leaving your meaning vague, not only for your reader but for yourself.”
It’s a strange truth that everything ever written is already said, thus it’s hard to extract anything new in your work. Sometimes this depresses me as I write, but I do my best not to think about it. What we must find as new authors, is our authentic voice. That way, when using “stale metaphors” we can still sound refreshing. But often we “pull the ideas and voice” from someone else’s book. That’s why we must separate ourselves from what we’ve written and analyze it, with attempts to see where it doesn’t “sound like us.”
For now, I wish to end with Anne Rice’s quote:
“Repeat a character’s name often in dialogue and in straight narrative. Don’t slip into “he” or “she” for long stretches because if you do many fast readers will find themselves having to go back to determine who is speaking or feeling or viewing the action. Punch the proper names.”
This has happened to me before with some authors while reading, but also while I was writing my own dialogue. Have in mind the reader, always.
Did you find your favorite quote among these? What is your favorite literary quote? Let me know in the comments.
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