This is a letter the Nobel Prize winning American author John Steinbeck wrote for beginning writers: "If there is a magic in story writing, and I am convinced there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another. The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer to convey something he feels important to the reader. If the writer has that urge, he may sometimes, but by no means always, find the way to do it. You must perceive the excellence that makes a good story good or the errors that makes a bad story. For a bad story is only an ineffective story."
One lesson we as writers learn is how to remove excessive uses of names, pronouns and other references to names. Do we really need a character's name/pronoun at the beginning of every sentence? Jenny opened the door. She walked down the steps and to her car. She looked at the backseat as was her habit after hearing recent news reports. Jenny…
The most pervasive and destructive illusion floating around the writing universe is that you can write something good without order and structure. Even if you just wing it, if you like to make it up as you go, you’ll end up rewriting and revising until an ordered structure emerges and becomes the skeleton of a finished piece. Advice from Larry Brooks.
Novelist Toni Morrison on what it's like to face a blank page and what it feels like after you've finished writing a book: "Usually there is a "what if" that might resolve the narrative, but the narrative is less interesting to me than the architecture, the language, all the other things that I can bring into the so-called story."
Writing is easy: All you have to do is start writing, finish writing, and make sure it's good. But here's some vastly more useful wisdom and advice from famous authors, from Hemingway to Orwell, Steinbeck to Stephen King, who write: "If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot."
Vonnegut writes, "Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, and not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style. I am not urging you to write a novel, by the way --- although I would not be sorry if you wrote one, provided you genuinely cared about something. A petition to the mayor about a pothole in front of your house or a love letter to the girl next door will do."
Advice from Charlie Jane Anders: One technique to fix problems with your first draft of a novel: Rewrite it as a shor story: "To do this, you have to pare away everything but the essence of your novel's story and then find a way to convey it all over again, using the elegant and shapely form of the short story."
You may be thinking: "I want to write a novel," but how do you go about it? How do you navigate between good intentions and procrastination? "Many people write novels just because it takes their mind away to an alternate universe, where their novel lives." Advice on creating characters, setting, seeking feedback, rewriting...and maintaining the habit of writing.
A collection of links and articles from the Science Fiction Resource Guide, with advice for aspiring writers on technique and overcoming writer's block -- as well as a guide to choosing publishers, agents and editors.
Where can you submit your science fiction/fantasy story for publication? Here is an extensive list of print and online magazines around the world that publish science fiction and fantasy stories and/or reviews.
Tell Don't Show; Name Wisely; Build a Better Backstory; Let it Bloom; Deform the Familiar...Jeff Vandermeer's Wonderbook: The Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction is jammed with storytelling wisdom from some of world's top fantasy writers, including Junot Diaz, Neil Gaiman, Lauren Beukes, George R. R. Martin and Kim Stanley Robinson.
What if someone went through the biggest and best blogs on the internet, and pulled out the very best-of-the best tips for fiction writers? Keep reading for the first 25 of the best 101 fiction writing tips on the web, i.e. "Your novel shouldn’t be a thinly-disguised memoir."
Several authors, including Elmore Leonard, Margaret Atwood, Jonathan Franzen, Ann Enright, and Neil Gaiman, give their own Top Ten lists of writing advice: "Get an accountant, abstain from sex and similes, cut, rewrite, then cut and rewrite again – if all else fails, pray."
The question of what propels creators, especially great creators, is the subject of eternal fascination and cultural curiosity. In “Why I Write,” originally published in the New York Times Book Review on 5 December 1976 and found in The Writer on Her Work, Volume 1 (public library), Joan Didion explains what compels her to put pen to paper.
November brings thirty days and nights of literary abandon...NaNoWriMo offers encouragement, support and deadlines to help authors complete the challenge: Write a novel in thirty days! 50,000 words in one month: Give it a try.
Politics and the English Language, the essay of George Orwell. First published: April 1946. Orwell analyses examples of writing, citing overuse of cliches and metaphors, and gives ideas for writing with clarity and simplicity.
Duotrope is a resource for writers; it offers a search feature to help you find a good fit for your manuscript among thousands of fiction, poetry and non-fiction publications markets. Its submissions tracker helps you keep track of your submissions, queries and responses.
A collection of advice for new and aspiring authors of fiction.
David writes, "I believe writing was the first truly verifiable and effective form of magic. Think of how it must have impressed people in ancient times!" As author Tom Robbins aptly put it:"Science gives man what he needs, But magic gives him what he wants."
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