Arcane Fire

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Let This Be A Lesson

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“Don’t be one of those writers who sentence themselves to a lifetime of sucking up to Nabokov.” – Dyer

Now that I consider myself a (very amateur) blogger, I am constantly worrying about how my writing looks to my readers (you know who you 6 people are) and how I will view my writing when I come back to it in a few months.  So naturally I was drawn to the NYMag post which showcased The Best Writing Advice of the Best Writing Advice.   I’m not writing fiction but I think the advice is still applicable to dilettantes like me.  Without further ado, here are some of my favorites from the Guardian’s piece:

  1. Diana Athill: Cut (perhaps that should be CUT): only by having no ­inessential words can every essential word be made to count.
  2. Elmore Leonard: Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” . . . he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin. The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt the rhythm of the exchange. I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances “full of rape and adverbs”.
  3. Margaret Atwood: 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.
  4. Roddy Doyle: Do give the work a name as quickly as possible. Own it, and see it. Dickens knew Bleak House was going to be called Bleak House before he started writing it. The rest must have been easy.
  5. Helen Dunmore: Learn poems by heart.
  6. Geoff Dyer: Keep a diary. The biggest regret of my writing life is that I have never kept a journal or a diary.
  7. Will Self: Always carry a notebook. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea for ever.

And so on. I highly encourage reading them all.  What else do you have to do on a snowy day?


Written by doorr

February 25, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Posted in Art, Books

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