How to write it

This is Part Three of a three-part series on writing. The series incorporates stated views of several well-known writers and their observations about the craft.

Over the last two days, we have commiserated with some of  the world’s noted writers in confronting the difficulties of writing and we have read their reasons for writing.

Today, we’ll wrap up the series by pretending to ask them for advice on what makes good writing. Here’s what they said:

Stephen King – “Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open. Your stuff starts out being just for you, in other words, but then it goes out.”

King also said that, “In truth, I’ve found that any day’s routine interruptions and distractions don’t much hurt a work in progress and may actually help it in some ways. It is, after all, the dab of grit that seeps into an oyster’s shell that makes the pearl, not pearl-making seminars with other oysters.”

Mark Twain suggested, “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.” 

Twain also said word choice is critical: “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

Anton Chekhov  — “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” 

Baltasar Gracián – “A synonym is a word you use when you can’t spell the other one.”

Jean-Luc Godard – “A story should have a beginning, a middle and an end… but not necessarily in that order.”

I find this final quote relevant to modern day writing. In the following passage, substitute the word “diaries” with “blogs” and you’ll see what I mean:

Ann Beattie — “It seems to me that the problem with diaries, and the reason that most of them are so boring, is that every day we vacillate between examining our hangnails and speculating on cosmic order.”

Once again, would you care to share writing techniques that work for you?

See you Monday.

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Filed under All Things Wordish, Quotes, Reading

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