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Recommended Books
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QUOTE OF THE DAY

Wednesday
Dec262012

A Character Is Never A Whole Person

A character is never a whole person, but just those parts of him that fit the story or the piece of writing. So the act of selection is the writer's first step in delineating character. From what does he select? From a whole mass of what Bernard DeVoto used to call, somewhat clinically, "placental material." He must know an enormous amount more about each of his characters than he will ever use directly—childhood, family background, religion, schooling, health, wealth, sexuality, reading, tastes, hobbies—an endless questionnaire for the writer to fill out. For example, the writer knows that people speak, and therefore his characters will describe themselves indirectly when they talk. Clothing is a means of characterization. In short, each character has a style of his own in everything he does. These need not all be listed, but the writer should have a sure grasp of them. If he has, his characters will, within the book, read like people.

WILLIAM SLOANE

Tuesday
Dec252012

Write What You Care About and Understand

All good books will eventually find a publisher if the writer tries hard enough, and a central secret to writing a good book is to write on that which people like you will enjoy. Write what you care about and understand.

RICHARD NORTH PATTERSON

Monday
Dec242012

Writing a Book is an Adventure

Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an 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 to the public.

WINSTON CHURCHILL

Sunday
Dec232012

Forget Yourself

Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music—the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls, and interesting people. Forget yourself.

HENRY MILLER

Saturday
Dec222012

Artists Don't Talk About Art

Artists don't talk about art. Artists talk about work. If I have anything to say to young writers, it's stop thinking of writing as art. Think of it as work.

PADDY CHAYEFSKY

Friday
Dec212012

Success Is A Finished Book

Success is a finished book, a stack of pages each of which is filled with words. If you reach that point, you have won a victory over yourself no less impressive than sailing single-handed around the world.

TOM CLANCY

Thursday
Dec202012

You Must Write Every Single Day of Your Life

To sum it all up, if you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling.

You must write every single day of your life.

You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next.

You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads.

I wish for you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime.

I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you.

May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories—science fiction or otherwise.

Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.

RAY BRADBURY

Wednesday
Dec192012

Writing Is Simply Talking On Paper

I am of the firm belief that everybody could write books and I never understand why they don't. After all, everyone speaks. Once the grammar has been learnt it is simply talking on paper and in time learning what not to say.

BERYL BAINBRIDGE

Tuesday
Dec182012

You Should Care Something for the Characters

The test of any good fiction is that you should care something for the characters; the good to succeed, the bad to fail. The trouble with most fiction is that you want them all to land in hell, together, as quickly as possible.

MARK TWAIN

Monday
Dec172012

Fiction

Fiction reveals truths that reality obscures.

JESSAMYN WEST

 

Truth may be stranger than fiction, but fiction is truer.

FREDERIC RAPHAEL

 

Fiction's about what it is to be a human being.

DAVID FOSTER WALLACE

 

Three characteristics a work of fiction must possess in order to be successful:

1. It must have a precise and suspenseful plot.

2. The author must feel a passionate urge to write it.

3. He must have the conviction, or at least the illusion, that he is the only one who can handle this particular theme.

ISAAC BASHEVIS SINGER

 

First-rate fiction lays hands on the reader, to heal him or rough him up or, ideally, to do both.

ELLEN CURRIE

 

The trouble with fiction is that it makes too much sense, whereas reality never makes sense.

ALDOUS HUXLEY

 

Details make stories human, and the more human a story can be, the better. 

V.S. PRITCHETT

 

Character is the very life of fiction. Setting exists so that the character has someplace to stand. Plot exists so the character can discover what he is really like, forcing the character to choice and action. And theme exists only to make the character stand up and be somebody.

JOHN GARDNER

 

In writing fiction, the more fantastic the tale, the plainer the prose should be. Don’t ask your readers to admire your words when you want them to believe your story.

BEN BOVA

 

Basically, fiction is people. You can’t write fiction about ideas.

THEODORE STURGEON

 

Structure is the key to narrative. These are the crucial questions any storyteller must answer: Where does it begin? Where does the beginning start to end and the middle begin? Where does the middle start to end and the end begin?

NORA EPHRON

 

Fiction is a lie, and good fiction is the truth inside the lie.

STEPHEN KING

Sunday
Dec162012

Nothing is More Satisfying Than to Write A Good Sentence

Nothing is more satisfying than to write a good sentence. It is no fun to write lumpishly, dully, in prose the reader must plod through like wet sand. But it is a pleasure to achieve, if one can, a clear running prose that is simple yet full of surprises. This does not just happen. It requires skill, hard work, a good ear, and continued practice.

BARBARA TUCHMAN

Saturday
Dec152012

Be Ruthless About Protecting Writing Days

Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e., do not cave in to endless requests to have "essential" and "long overdue" meetings on those days. The funny thing is that, although writing has been my actual job for several years now, I still seem to have to fight for time in which to do it. Some people do not seem to grasp that I still have to sit down in peace and write the books, apparently believing that they pop up like mushrooms without my connivance. I must therefore guard the time allotted to writing as a Hungarian Horntail guards its firstborn egg.

J.K. ROWLING

Friday
Dec142012

Try to Be Alive

The most solid advice . . . for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.

WILLIAM SAROYAN

Thursday
Dec132012

Plotting is Like Sex

Plotting is like sex. Plotting is about desire and satisfaction, anticipation and release. You have to arouse your reader’s desire to know what happens, to unravel the mystery, to see good triumph. You have to sustain it, keep it warm, feed it, just a little bit, not too much at a time, as your story goes on. That’s called suspense. It can bring desire to a frenzy, in which case you are in a good position to bring off a wonderful climax.

COLIN GREENLAND

Tuesday
Dec112012

Always Stop When You Know What Is Going to Happen Next

When I am working on a book or story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day next you hit it again.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY

Monday
Dec102012

It Takes Great Courage

Writers spend all their time preoccupied with just the things that their fellow men and women spend their time trying to avoid thinking about. ... It takes great courage to look where you have to look, which is in yourself, in your experience, in your relationship with fellow beings, your relationship to the earth, to the spirit or to the first cause—to look at them and make something of them.

HARRY CREWS

Sunday
Dec092012

It Is Only A Novel

Oh it is only a novel . . . . In short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best chosen language.

JANE AUSTEN

Saturday
Dec082012

Fiction is Democratic

What we call fiction is the ancient way of knowing, the total discourse that antedates all the special vocabularies.... Fiction is democratic, it reasserts the authority of the single mind to make and remake the world.

E.L. DOCTOROW

Friday
Dec072012

Writing Is A Performance

The first and perhaps the most important requirement for a successful writing performance—and writing is a performance, like singing an aria or dancing a jig—is to understand the nature of the occasion.

STEPHEN GREENBLATT

Thursday
Dec062012

A Writer's Brain

A writer’s brain is full of little gifts, like a piñata at a birthday party. It’s also full of demons, like a piñata at a birthday party in a mental hospital. The truth is, it’s demons that keep a tortured writer’s spirit alive, not Tootsie Rolls. Sure they’ll give you a tiny burst of energy, but they won’t do squat for your writing. So treat your demons with the respect they deserve, and with enough prescriptions to keep you wearing pants.

COLIN NISSAN