Many of you write
to me asking for advice about writing.
think William Faulkner said it best. In accepting the 1950 Nobel Prize for Literature,
young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart
in conflict with itself, which alone can make good writing because only that is
worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat."
must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is
to be afraid
It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart,
by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and
pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past."
are some more thoughts of my own:
When I first began writing, my thoughts would get jumbled and I struggled to put
down on paper what I wanted to say. I thought I could never get past the first
page, but I kept trying. Eventually I reached out for help. With the encouragement
of friends, I managed to commit to finish what I started.
you ever been to a museum and seen an art student with an easel copy a painting
hanging on the wall? They do that in order to learn. The equivalent applies to
writing. Take a book that moves you and actually copy your favorite parts. It
will reveal much to you about what makes good writing. It's a great way to learn
by experiencing how different writers write.
addition, read your work aloud--to yourself and to others.
you write, appeal to as many senses as possible-visual images, sounds, tastes,
smells, colors, and textures.
With each paragraph,
ask yourself: What is each character thinking? What is each character feeling?
How do they show it?
Use dialog sparingly. Actions really
do speak louder than words.
to write about?
Write what you care about. Write what you're most scared
and embarrassed to write. Write what you would like to read and can't find. Give
voice to those who have no voice.
Surround yourself with people who will
give you confidence and build you up as a writer. Encouragement is so important.
worry about being published or finding an agent. First, WRITE AND FINISH YOUR
if you are a young writer, check out this website:
if you are writing a book for teens or children, join:
And, and, and, read my writing advice post at:
The Naughty Book Kitties:
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Writing But Were too Afraid to Ask
courage, be true to who you are, reach out for help, and follow your dreams!
Kurt Vonnegut's eight rules for writing a
- Use the time of a total
stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
It's the writer's job to stage confrontations, so the characters will say
surprising and revealing things, and educate and entertain us all.
- Give the reader at least
one character he or she can root for.
- Every character should
want something, even if it is only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by
the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to
time. When you exclude anyone's wanting anything, you exclude the reader,
which is a mean-spirited thing to do.
- Every sentence must do
one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.
Start as close to the end as
- Be a sadist. Now matter
how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to
them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
- Write to please just one
person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your
story will get pneumonia. Every successful creative person creates with an
audience of one in mind. That's the secret of artistic unity.
- Give your readers as
much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense.
Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where
and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat
the last few pages.