“A great story is never just about something…a place, a time, an event, a theme. A great story is about something happening.”
~ Larry Brooks
“Craft makes talent possible.”
~ Stella Adler
“The reader is your friend. Do him no harm.”
~ Bill Hosokawa
In brief, I spend half my time trying to learn the secrets of other writers – to apply them to the expression of my own thoughts.
~ Shirley Ann Grau
You sit down and you do it, and you do it, and you do it, until you have learned to do it.
~ Ursula K. LeGuin…on writing
Everything that is written merely to please the author is worthless.
~ Blaise Pascal
Writing a book is a adventure. To begin with it is a toy and amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him out to the public.
~ Winston Churchill
Science fiction deals with unprobable possibilities, fantasy believable impossibilities.
~ Miriam Allen de Ford
Science-fiction balances you on the cliff. Fantasy shoves you off.
~ Ray Bradbury
SF is not about the future but a future.
~ Fredrick Pohl
I wonder why murder is considered less immoral than fornication in literature.
~ George Moore
All of a writer that matters is in the book or books. It is idiotic to be curious about the person.
~ Jean Rhys
“Writing a book is like telling a joke and having to wait two years to find out whether or not anyone thinks it’s funny.”
~ Alain de Botton
Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader. Not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.
~ E.L. Doctorow
The two most engaging powers of an author are, to make new things familiar, and familiar things new.
~ Samuel Johnson
If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.
~ Edgar Rice Burroughs
My most important piece of advice to all you would-be writers: when you write, try to leave out all the parts readers skip.
~ Elmore Leonard
There are no rules in writing. There are useful principles. Throw them away when they’re not useful. But always know what you’re throwing away.
~ Will Shetterly
You need more than a beginning if you’re going to start a book. If all you have is a beginning, then once you’ve written that beginning, you have nowhere to go.
~ Neil Gaiman
Use your imagination. Trust me, your lives are not that interesting. Don’t write them down.
~ W. B. Kinsella
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.
~ Susan Sontag
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.
~ Eudora Welty
A compelling story is life with the dull bits cut out.
~ Alfred Hitchcock
It is a cardinal sin to bore the reader.
~ Larry Niven
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’s better to write about things you feel than about things you know about.
~ L P. Hartley
Writing is communication, not self-expression. Nobody in this world wants to read your diary except your mother.
~ Richard Peck
If the sex scene doesn’t make you want to do it – whatever it is they’re doing – it hasn’t been written right.
~ Sloan Wilson
I think the first duty of all art, including fiction of any kind, is to entertain. That is to say, to hold interest. No matter how worthy the message of something, if it’s dull, you’re just not communicating.
~ Poul Anderson
Readers, after all, are making the world with you. You give them the materials, but it’s the readers who build that world in their own minds.
~ Ursula Le Guin
Honest criticism is hard to take, particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger.
~ Franklin Jones
This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address’. Just keep looking for the right address.
~ Barbara Kingsolver
“I do not over-intellectualize the production process. I try to keep it simple: Tell the damned story.”
~ Tom Clancy, WD
James Joyce was a synthesizer, trying to bring in as much as he could. I am an analyzer, trying to leave out as much as I can.
~ Samuel Beckett
“You know what I did after I wrote my first novel? I shut up and wrote twenty-three more.”
~ Michael Connelly
“Delayed gratification hints that something terrible is going to happen, and then delays the resolution.
It’s that interval between the promise of something awful and it actually happening, where suspense resides.”
~ Sandy Vaile
Writer’s Voice: That unidentifiable “IT FACTOR” a reader loves about a book, but can’t identify.
~ Christina Alexander
“Don’t polish it forever, put it out there. At some point the changes aren’t improvements, they’re just changes.”
~ Dan Alatorre
“There’s a difference between the ‘art’ of writing and the ‘craft’ of writing. Art is subjective, its beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, but craft is objective. There is a right way and a wrong way to craft.”
~ Gerard de Marigny, Rescue From Sana’a
“Style and voice are different. Style is standard conventions of writing. Voice is the distinct way an individual puts words together. All good writers have a near-uniform understanding of style but a voice all their own.”
~ Naveed Saleh
“Always remember that writing is an alliance between author and reader. With every line we put down on the page, we need to leave room for the reader’s imagination and intellect.”
~ Hal Zina Bennett
Writing gives you the illusion of control, and then you realize it’s just an illusion, that people are going to bring their own stuff into it.
~ David Sedaris
A writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, because everything she does is golden. In my view, a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.
~ Junot Diaz
There is no way of writing well and also of writing easily.
~ Anthony Trollope
We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.
~ Ernest Hemingway
“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or poorly written. That is all.”
~ Oscar Wilde
There is only one recipe for a best-seller and it is a very simple one. You have to get the reader to turn over the page.
~ Ian Fleming, How to Write a Thriller
Isn’t fiction writing a type of manipulation? You want people (readers) to identify with a total falsehood and fantasy (imaginary) person.
Don’t pay any attention to reviews. Because if you believe them when they say you’re good, you’ll believe them when they say you’re bad.
~Attributed to Earnest Hemingway
Easy reading is damn hard writing.
~ Nathaniel Hawthorne
Honestly, orthodoxy concerns me about as much as it concerns your average jackrabbit. I only follow rules that take me where I want to go. If there aren’t any rules, I make up my own (and follow them strictly).
~ Ursula K. Le Guin
“It’s no wonder that Truth is stranger than Fiction. Fiction has to make sense.”
~ Mark Twain
When forced to work within a strict framework the imagination is taxed to its utmost— and will produce its richest ideas. Given total freedom the work is likely to sprawl.
~ T S Eliot
“You’ve got to sell your heart, your strongest reactions, not the little minor things that only touch you lightly, the little experiences that you tell at dinner. This is especially true when you begin to write, when you have not yet developed the tricks of interesting people on paper, when you have none of the technique which it takes to learn. When in short, you have only your emotions to sell.”
~ F. Scott Fitzgerald
In literary representation, the distinction between the genuinely erotic and the licentious is a distinction not of subject-matter , but of perspective. The genuinely erotic work is one which invites the reader to re-create in imagination the first-person point of view of someone party to an erotic encounter. The pornographic work retains as a rule the third-person perspective of the voyeuristic observer.
~ Roger Scruton
“Sex can be defined fairly adequately in physiological terms as consisting of the building up of bodily tensions and their release. Eros, in contrast, is the experiencing of the personal intentions and meaning of the act. Whereas sex is a rhythm of stimulus and response, eros is a state of being. The pleasure of sex is described by Freud and others as the reduction of tension; in eros, on the contrary, we wish not to be released from the excitement but rather to hang on to it, to bask in it, and even to increase it. The end toward which sex points is gratification and relaxation, whereas eros is a desiring, longing, a forever reaching out, seeking to expand.”
~ Rollo May
“Fantasy is the genre where reality is only the starting point, and the imagination takes over from there.”
~ Kevin J. Anderson, coauthor of Paul of Dune
Fantasy is my favorite genre for reading and writing. We have more options than anyone else, and the best props and special effects. That means if you want to write a fantasy story with Norse gods, sentient robots, and telepathic dinosaurs, you can do just that. Want to throw in a vampire and a lesbian unicorn while you’re at it? Go ahead.
~ Patrick Rothfuss
Writing a novel is like making love, but it’s also like having a tooth pulled. Pleasure and pain. Sometimes it’s like making love while having tooth pulled.
~ Dean Koontz
There exists this moment before I edit where I feel completely overwhelmed. This is, quite literally, part of my process. I get this sense of literary vertigo, like I’m staring over the cliff’s edge into the crashing gears of some giant malevolent machine that I cannot comprehend and that I am sure will crush me into my constituent parts. And in this moment I want to back away and say, “Fuck it, I’m not doing this, I’m done, game over, my work sucks, I’m not a writer, I’m just some asshole, I can’t hack it, I can’t-” And then I leap over the cliff’s edge and let the gears take me. And that’s when I find out it wasn’t as bad as I thought. It’s never as bad as you thought.
~ Chuck Wendig
Writers have to get used to launching something beautiful and watching it crash and burn. They also have to learn when to let go control, when the work takes off on its own and flies, farther than they ever planned or imagined, to places they didn’t know they knew.
~ Ursula K. Le Guin
I think the tendency to over-explain and over describe is one of the most common failings in fantasy. It’s an unfortunate piece of Tolkien’s legacy. Don’t get me wrong, Tolkien was a great worldbuilder, but he got a little caught up describing his world at times, at the expense of the overall story.
~ Patrick Rothfuss
The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.
~ Philip Roth
There is a rule for fantasy writers: the more truth you mix in with a lie, the stronger it gets.
~ Diane Duane
If you get bored with nothing to do, you are not a writer … We are in the business of reproducing reality from nothing. We are the biggest liars in the world, seeking truth.
~ Guillermo del Toro
The best writers are illusionists, creating whole worlds out of nothing at all. Another way of saying we’re all frauds and that’s all we aspire to be.
~ William MacBride
I could write an entertaining novel about rejection slips, but I fear it would be overly long.
~ Louise Brown
A SF author who reads only SF will have little new to contribute, but someone with a broader experience will bring more to the table.
~ Walter Jon Williams
You will, I am sure, agree with me that… if page 534 only finds us in the second chapter, the length of the first one must have been really intolerable.
~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
You have to have the three D’s: drive, discipline and desire. If you’re missing any one of those three, you can have all the talent in the world, but it’s going to be really hard to get anything done.
~ Nora Roberts