A Top 10 List of Writing Tips from Famous Writers…
10. Work according to the program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time! (Henry Miller)
9. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. (George Orwell)
8. Don’t sit down in the middle of the woods. If you’re lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page. (Margaret Atwood)
7. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.” (Elmore Leonard)
6. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing. (Henry Miller)
5. Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it. (Neil Gaiman)
4. Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can’t sharpen it on the plane, because you can’t take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils. (Margaret Atwood)
3. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous. (George Orwell)
Doris Lessing: “You should write, first of all, to please yourself. You shouldn’t care a damn about anybody else at all. But writing can’t be a way of life - the important part of writing is living. You have to live in such a way that your writing emerges from it.”
Chinua Achebe: “Imaginative literature does not enslave; it liberates the mind of man. Its truth is not like the canons of orthodoxy or the irrationality of prejudice and superstition. It begins as an adventure in self-discovery and ends in wisdom and humane conscience.”
Seamus Heaney: “The gift of writing is to be self-forgetful … to get a surge of inner life or inner supply or unexpected sense of empowerment, to be afloat, to be out of yourself.“
Elmore Leonard: "So many people say, ‘I’m dying to write.’ Well, if you’re dying to write, why aren’t you writing? If you’re not writing, you’re not dying to do it enough.”
Iain Banks: “Writing is like everything else: the more you do it the better you get. Don’t try to perfect as you go along, just get to the end of the damn thing. Accept imperfections. Get it finished and then you can go back.
As you have probably heard, Elmore Leonard passed away at 7:15 this morning due to complications from a stroke. He was at home surrounded by his loving family.
It feels not in keeping with Elmore’s “no fuss” persona to try to pay tribute to this great man. But Elmore was a true legend—unpretentious, unbelievably talented, and the coolest dude in the room.
William Morrow has published 47 titles with Elmore since 1980 with more than 8 million books in print in the US, including e-books. He has won more than a dozen literary awards, including a medallion from The National Book Foundation saluting lifetime achievement.
All of us at HarperCollins will miss working with this national treasure and one of our favorite authors of all time.
—Michael Morrison, President ＆ Publisher, HarperCollins
1. Never open a book with weather.
2. Avoid prologues.
3. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said”…he admonished gravely.
5. Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.
6. Never use the words "suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”
7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
9. Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.
10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
My most important rule is one that sums up the 10.
JUSTIFIED Character Poster Art by Francesco Francavilla
With the Penultimate Season Final airing tonight, I had to tackle another of the kickass characters that makes JUSTIFIED such a great show to watch every week: Rachel Brooks, Deputy U.S. Marshal played by the talented Erica Tazel. :)
And since this is season finale, I am including a gallery of all other characters I have done this season: Raylan, Art, and our bad boy, Boyd.
Enjoy the finale: it’s gonna be tons fo fun, I know!
“I don’t like a lot of description. I like to judge for myself what a character looks like from the way he talks. I picked up on that immediately. I thought, That’s the way to go, just keep the characters talking and the reader will discover what they look like. When you are developing your style you avoid weaknesses. I am not good at describing things so I stay away from it. And if anyone is going to describe anything at all, it’s going to be from the point of view of the character, because then I can use his voice and his attitude will be revealed in the way he describes what he sees. I want to remain completely out of it. I don’t want the reader to be aware of me as the writer.” —Elmore Leonard (1925-2013), from Como Conversazione: Criminal Conversations in our Winter 2002 issue.
Too often we lose sight of life’s simple pleasures. Remember, when someone annoys you, it takes 42 muscles in your face to frown. But it only takes 4 muscles to extend your arm and bitch-slap the motherfucker upside the head.