Friday, August 27, 2010

Quips and Quotes

If you could ask a legendary author a question, what would it be? Would you wonder what inspired them to write their classic? Would you ask how they stayed motivated? Would you ask them what you should do to be a successful writer? Well I don't have a direct line to the afterlife, so you'll have to settle for those words of wisdom someone was smart enough to write down. 

There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein. ~Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith
- I don’t think this American sportswriter ever wrote a novel, but he got this right. Open a vein indeed. Sometimes it is that painful isn’t it!

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia. ~E.L. Doctorow
- A discussion at our most recent SRW meeting focused on deep POV. The writers discussing it (both published) shared that when writing they weren’t simply telling a story about a character, they were the character. As long as you are only your character when you are writing (or thinking about writing) you are probably ok; seek medical help if you actually have breakfast with your characters!

The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business. ~John Steinbeck, Accepting Nobel Prize, 1962
- Not very encouraging is it!?!

Substitute "damn" every time you're inclined to write "very;" your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain
- Haha, did you notice I used 'very' above? Simple, straight-forward, practical advice from an all-time legend. Come on writers, expand beyond four letter words! Especially those words that don’t add anything to your story.

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth
- This quote makes me think of romance, but he isn’t really talking about writing for Harlequin. No matter what genre your writing may (or may not) fit into, you must write always with passion.

Easy reading is damn hard writing. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne
- The author of The Scarlet Letter knew what he was talking about. It may look easy, but we all know it isn't. Next time you put down a good book, resist the urge to delete every page of your current WIP. Walk away and try again another day. Writing is hard. If it wasn’t anyone could do it.

Most editors are failed writers - but so are most writers. ~T.S. Eliot
- Hmm... He’s got a point.

I’ll finish off with this final (helpful?) quote from someone I've never heard of before and I think he makes his own points:

Do not put statements in the negative form.
And don't start sentences with a conjunction.
If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that
a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
De-accession euphemisms.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague.
~William Safire, "Great Rules of Writing"


Anita Mae Draper said...

Nicely said, Anne. :D

I found a great writer's quote last week and filed it away so I'd have it ready, because I wasn't ready the last time a post like this went through... and now I don't remember where I filed it. :(

So, I'm going back into my cave, but I'll emerge and post it later if I remember.

Meanwhile, these are great quotes to go to work by.

Thanks, Anne.

Anita Mae.

Anne Germaine said...

Hi Anita - Have a great (and productive) day in your cave! Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Karyn Good said...

I love quotes and I have a quote file. Whether they're funny, inspiring, irreverent, or comforting, you can always find one to make you feel better.

The Wordsworth one is my new favorite :) Thanks, Anne.

Anne Germaine said...

It is rather eloquent, isn't it Karyn.

Joanne Brothwell said...

I love the "Great Rules of Writing" - hilarious!

Jana Richards said...

I love quotes too. I need to start a quote file like Karyn. Unfortunately, with my memory, I'd likely forget where I put it, just like Anita.

I believe William Safire is an American journalist/writer. He's also pretty funny!