"If you're a freelance writer and aren't used to being ignored, neglected, and generally given short shrift, you must not have been in the business very long."
"I don't think it is possible to give tips for finding one's voice; it's one of those things for which there aren't really any tricks or shortcuts, or even any advice that necessarily translates from writer to writer. All I can tell you is to write as much as possible."
"I got to thinking about the point in every freelancer's life where he has to decide whether he wants to A, have a social life, and do art in his spare time, or B, do art, and have a social life in his spare time. It has always seemed to me that if you have any hope of making a living as an artist – writer, musician, whatever – you absolutely must learn to tell people to leave you alone, and to mean it, and to eject them from your life if they don't respect that. This is necessary not because your job is more important than anyone else's – it isn't – but because a great many people will think of you as not having a job. 'Oh, how wonderful – you can work whenever you want to!' Well, yes, to a point, but generally 'whenever you want to' had better be most of the time, or else you won't have a roof over your head."
"Young writers shouldn't be afraid of striving to emulate their favorites. It's a good way to learn, as long as you move on from it and don't publish too many of the results."
"If you find yourself imitating another writer, that doesn't have to be a bad thing, especially if you are a young or a new writer. However, you should be conscious of exactly how you are imitating him - word choice, sentence structure, motifs? - and think about why you're doing it."
"Sharing our stories can also be a means of healing. Grief and loss may isolate us, and anger may alienate us. Shared with others, these emotions can be powerfully uniting, as we see that we are not alone, and realize that others weep with us."
"Storytelling is healing. As we reveal ourselves in story, we become aware of the continuing core of our lives under the fragmented surface of our experience. We become aware of the multifaceted, multichaptered ' I ' who is the storyteller. We can trace out the paradoxical and even contradictory versions of ourselves that we create for different occasions, different audiences... Most important, as we become aware of ourselves as storytellers, we realize that what we understand and imagine about ourselves is a story. And when we know all this, we can use our stories to heal and make ourselves whole."
People are certainly impressed by the aura of creative power which a writer may wear, but can easily demolish it with a few well-chosen questions. Bob Shaw has observed that the deadliest questions usually come as a pair: "Have you published anything?" – loosely translated as: I've never heard of you – and "What name do you write under?" – loosely translatable as: I've definitely never heard of you.
All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives lies a mystery. Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.
Coleridge was a drug addict. Poe was an alcoholic. Marlowe was killed by a man whom he was treacherously trying to stab. Pope took money to keep a woman's name out of a satire then wrote a piece so that she could still be recognized anyhow. Chatterton killed himself. Byron was accused of incest. Do you still want to a writer - and if so, why?
Love interest nearly always weakens a mystery because it introduces a type of suspense that is antagonistic to the detective's struggle to solve a problem.
Tension is wonderful for making people laugh.
All romances end in tragedy. One of the key people in a romance becomes a monster sooner or later.
Plotting is like sex. Plotting is about desire and satisfaction, anticipation and release. You have to arouse your reader's desire to know what happens, to unravel the mystery, to see good triumph. You have to sustain it, keep it warm, feed it, just a little bit, not too much at a time, as your story goes on. That's called suspense. It can bring desire to a frenzy, in which case you are in a good position to bring off a wonderful climax.
The greatest rules of dramatic writing are conflict, conflict and conflict.
Drama is life with the dull bits cut out.
The essence of drama is that man cannot walk away from the consequences of his own deeds.
In a good play, everyone is in the right.
We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world.
The story is not in the plot but in the telling.
Ursula K. LeGuin
Anecdotes don't make good stories. Generally I dig down underneath them so far that the story that finally comes out is not what people thought their anecdotes were about.
We exponents of horror do much better than those Method actors. We make the unbelievable believable. More often than not, they make the believable unbelievable.
Fundamentally, all writing is about the same thing; it's about dying, about the brief flicker of time we have here, and the frustration that it creates.
Don't mistake a good setup for a satisfying conclusion -- many beginning writers end their stories when the real story is just ready to begin.
When two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, they are required to swear that they will remain in that exalted, abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously until death do them part.
George Bernard Shaw
I write plays because dialogue is the most respectable way of contradicting myself.
A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.
There is no reason why good cannot triumph as often as evil. The triumph of anything is a matter of organization. If there are such things as angels, I hope that they are organized along the lines of the Mafia.
Endless conflicts. Endless misunderstanding. All life is that. Great and little cannot understand one another.
A story isn't about a moment in time, a story is about the moment in time.
W. D. Wetherell
I could speculate, but it would be just speculation and the kind of thing that you would get in with a science fiction story. And if I was doing a science fiction story then I would come up with what can go wrong with this system.
...commenting about the future of book publishing technology
FOR MORE QUOTES
First, find out what your hero wants. Then just follow him.
Sex almost always disappoints me in novels. Everything can be said or done now, and that's what I often find: everything, a feeling of generality or dispersal. But in my experience, true sex is so particular, so peculiar to the person who yearns for it. Only he or she, and no one else, would desire so very much that very person under those circumstances. In fiction, I miss that sense of terrific specificity.
A good novel tells us the truth about its hero, but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.
G. K. Chesterton
It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does.
In nearly all good fiction, the basic - all but inescapable - plot form is this: A central character wants something, goes after it despite opposition, perhaps including his own doubts, and so arrives at a win, lose, or draw.
I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose.
The best way to send information is to wrap it up in a person.
Why wouldn't you write to escape yourself as much as you might write to express yourself. It's far more interesting to write about others.
The test of any good fiction is that you should care something for the characters; the good to succeed, the bad to fail. The trouble with most fiction is that you want them all to land in hell, together, as quickly as possible.
I never started from ideas but always from character.
Each writer is born with a repertory company in his head and as you get older, you become more skillful casting them.
Characters take on life sometimes by luck, but I suspect it is when you can write more entirely out of yourself, inside the skin, heart, mind, and soul of a person who is not yourself, that a character becomes in his own right another human being on the page.
Writing fiction is a solitary occupation but not really a lonely one. The writer's head is mobbed with characters, images and language.
Characterization is an accident that flows out of action and dialogue.
"Make 'em laugh; make 'em cry; make 'em wait,"
"Stay with what it is and it will give you everything that isn't. From this wooden table I am learning on, I can build a whole world of fiction,"
"Get on with it. There are people who 'talk book', and there are people who 'write book': talking writers, and writing writers,"
"Asking a writer what he thinks abour critics, is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs,"
"The title of the novel is part of the text, the first part of it, in fact, that we encounter - and therefore has considerable power to attract and condition the reader's attention,"
"I have never written for more than half an hour in my life. Writing to me only occupies a teeny wee bit of my life. And to be truthful, I hate writing. I wouldn't like the idea of writing all day at all,"
"If a writer knows something, even if he doesn't write it, it is present in his work,"
"If you have a skeleton in your cupboard, take it out and dance with it,"
"If a publisher declines your manuscript, remember it is merely the decision of one fallible human being, try another,"
"If you really want to achieve greatness, you have to keep challenging yourself. You have to keep going back into yourself,"
"What all of us must do is get an idea that excites US and then write the hell out of it. Write it as well as you know how. And if you hit a nerve, and it's true, then you have a chance,"
"As a writer, you're rejected so often that you have to develop a resilience. So when I'm down it rarely lasts...I search around until I find something to get excited about,"
"Do they keep throwing the book at Jeffrey Archer as an act of revenge for his lousy novels?"
"You wrote too fast. You're scared. Slow down. You shouldn't write a short story in less than two months,"
"The beginning is the 'want', the middle the 'conflict' and the end is the 'resolution',"
"There will come a day, if you persist, when your pen will move nimbly and you will feel elated, and exclaim to yourself: Now I know that I can write,"
"Jilly Cooper has been described as 'insecure and ludicrously sensitive': characteristics of any successful writer,"
"Writing is a dog's life, but the only one worth living,"
"If you write from the heart, you are writing at the very best of your ability,"
"I can't write a sex scene. In my first book there was one four-letter word, and my mother saw it and told me off about it. I wrote a sex scene and when Doubleday (publishers) saw it they just laughed at me. They said, 'You don't need it. You are a story-teller,'"
"When I was ten, my dad bought me a second-hand typewriter and I typed out these little tales and stitched them in a folder with a hand-painted title. When I was twelve I submitted one - about a little horse, I think - to something called The Children's Mag and it was actually published. I have never stopped writing since,"
BARBARA TAYLOR BRADFORD
"Write hard and clear about what hurts,"
"All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath,"
"Don't allow yourself to get fussed over how to begin. Don't sit staring at a blank screen,"
"Raising questions and then supplying plaudsible, yet unexpected answers, this is the job of the storyteller,"
"Fiction fatigue - expect it, and don't let it ruin your story,"
"I would never write about someone who is not at the end of his rope,"
"Give the readers a book with people they care about and they will queue up to shake the author's hand,"
"An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke,"
"Always remember your reader, or else you are talking to yourself,"
"I don't have much time for a playwright that can't write a book, because I don't think they can. A play is a piece of cake to write, it you can write dialogue, and you can plot. They get much lauded, everyone from Tennesse Williams to Pinter and Stoppard. I'd like to see them write a novel. They couldn't in my opinion."
"I've never had a short story published. So, in a way, I didn't really achieve my ambition. In that sense I'm still a failure."
FORD MADOX FORD
"When in doubt, cut."
PLINY THE YOUNGER
"Too much polishing weakens rather than improves a work."
"An even battle is more fun to watch."
"The first person you should think of pleasing, in writing a book, is yourself."
"Most authors would consider it undesirable to approach a publisher in a dirty incoherent condition. But that is, in effect, what they do when they submit a dirty and dilapidated manuscript."
"First, find out what the hero wants and then just follow him/her."
"What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure."
"No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft."
"It took me 15 years to discover I had no talent for writing. But I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous."
“If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster.”