Victory Crayne, Author

Victory Crayne

Quotations on Aspects of Writing

Characterization, Editing, etc.

by Victory Crayne

Copyright 2016

To jump to links:
Writer's Block
First Drafts
Show versus Tell
Getting Published
Science Fiction


How many good books suffer neglect through the inefficiency of their beginnings! - Edgar Allan Poe



I have long since decided if you wait for the perfect time to write, you'll never write. There is no time that isn't flawed somehow. - Margaret Atwood

Inspiration comes of working every day. - Charles Baudelaire

Any good writer who wants to make a living off of their writing CAN make a living off of their writing. The only difference is that for some it might take a little longer. That’s it. What it all boils down to is time, not luck. - Courtney Milan

The one ironclad rule is that I have to try. I have to walk into my writing room and pick up my pen every weekday morning. - Anne Tyler

Find your best time of the day for writing and write. Don't let anything else interfere. Afterwards it won't matter to you that the kitchen is a mess. - Esther Freud
[...or the emails have waited.]

Discipline allows magic. To be a writer is to be the very best of assassins. You do not sit down and write every day to force the Muse to show up. You get into the habit of writing every day so that when she shows up, you have the maximum chance of catching her, bashing her on the head, and squeezing every last drop out of that bitch. - Lili St. Crow

Get up early and write before your day can screw-up your creative thoughts. Besides, if you've already written that day, you've already won, no matter what the rest of the day brings. - William Higgs

I make writing as much a part of my life as I do eating or listening to music. - Maya Angelou

Inspiration is for amateurs–-the rest of us just show up and get to work. - Painter Chuck Close

A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper. - Writer E. B. White

A self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood. - Composer Peter Tchaikovsky

The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day when you are writing a novel you will never be stuck. That is the most valuable thing I can tell you so try to remember it. - Ernest Hemingway

Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you. — Zadie Smith

Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on. - Louis L'Amour

You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. - Jack London

A writer never finds the time to write. A writer makes it. If you don't have the drive, the discipline, and the desire, then you can have all the talent in the world, and you aren't going to finish a book. - Nora Roberts

If you want to be a writer, you have to write every day... You don't go to a well once but daily. You don't skip a child's breakfast or forget to wake up in the morning. - Walter Mosley

Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without the exercise, the muscles seize up. - Jane Yolen

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. - J. K. Rowling

Write every day, line by line, page by page, hour by hour. Do this despite fear. For above all else, beyond imagination and skills, what the world asks of you is courage, courage to risk rejection, ridicule and failure. - Robert McKee

Writers write while dreamers procrastinate. - Besa Kosova

I don't wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work. - Pearl S. Buck

Inability to get to your writing is a disease that affects most writers. - Stephen J. Cannell

A published author is an amateur who didn't quit. Don't quit. - Mandy Hubbard, author and literary agent

I write when I'm inspired, and I see to it that I'm inspired at nine o'clock every morning. - Peter DeVries

One should aim not at being possible to understand, but at being impossible to misunderstand. - Quintilian

Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers. - Ray Bradbury

Spend the most creative hour of your day creating, not responding. – Seth Godin

You don't find time to write. You make time. - Nora Roberts

You want to be a writer? A writer is someone who writes every day--so start writing. - Shonda Rhimes

Like your bedroom, your writing room should be private, a place where you go to dream....The place can be humble, and it really needs only one thing: A door you are willing to shut. - Stephen King

You can only learn to be a better writer by actually writing. - Doris Lessing

Don't sell yourself short; dare to dream. You might sell to a top market before you ever sell to a non-paying market -- you won't know unless you try. In the same way, it's good to be cooperative, but don't be too humble either. - Rheal Nadeau.

By making writing a part of your daily routine -- just like brushing your teeth -- you'll discipline yourself to work as a writer instead of a hobbyist who only writes when there's some fun to be had. - Theresa Grant

You need three things to become a successful novelist: talent, luck and discipline. Discipline is the one element of these three that you can control, and so that is the one that you have to focus on controlling, and you just have to hope and trust in the other two. - Michael Chabon

Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything good. - William Faulkner

You don't need to wait for inspiration to write. It's easier to be inspired while writing than while not writing. - Josip Navakavich

If you only write when inspired, you may be a fairly decent poet, but you'll never be a novelist. - Neil Gaiman

What I write when I force myself is generally just as good as what I write when I'm feeling inspired. It's mainly a matter of forcing yourself to write. - Tom Wolfe

Writing is like breathing, it's possible to learn to do it well, but the point is to do it no matter what. - Julia Cameron

I have forced myself to begin writing when I've been utterly exhausted, when I've felt my soul as thin as a playing card...and somehow the activity of writing changes everything. - Joyce Carol Oates

When you do feel stuck at the start of a project, your most critical task is to establish a writing schedule. Form the habit of writing at the same time every day (or as regularly as possible), in the same place and with the same routine and props--for instance a specific mug of coffee. The more frequently repeated elements you can get your brain to associate with the act of writing, the more habituated it will become to working creatively on cue. -

Inspiration comes of working every day. - Charles Baudelaire

Whatever you're meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible. - Doris Lessing

As for discipline--it's important, but sort of over-rated. The more important virtue for a writer, I believe, is self-forgiveness. Because your writing will always disappoint you. Your laziness will always disappoint you. You will make vows: 'I'm going to write for an hour every day,' and then you won't do it. You will think: 'I suck. I'm such a failure. I'm washed up.' Continuing to write after that heartache of disappointment doesn't take only discipline, but also self-forgiveness (which comes from a place of kind and encouraging and motherly love). - Elizabeth Gilbert

Keep a small can of WD-40 on your desk--away from any open flames--to remind yourself that if you don't write daily, you will get rusty. - George Singleton

If you wait for inspiration to write you're not a writer, you're a waiter. - Dan Poynter

My goal is to write every day. I say it is my ideal. I am careful not to pass judgment or create anxiety if I do not do it. No one lives up to his ideal. - Natalie Goldberg

Best advice on writing I've ever received. Finish. - Peter Mayle

Write even when the world is chaotic. You don't need a cigarette, silence, music, a comfortable chair, or inner peace to write. You just need ten minutes and a writing implement. - Cory Doctorow

The writer has to force himself to work. He has to make his own hours and if he doesn't go to his desk at all there is nobody to scold him. - Roald Dahl

I don't know what inspiration is, but when it comes, I hope it finds me working. - Pablo Picasso

You fail only if you stop writing. - Ray Bradbury

When you sit down to write, write. Don't do anything else except go to the bathroom, and only do that if it absolutely cannot be put off. - Stephen King

My one piece of writing advice is just to keep writing. Focus on the books, and the rest will come. - Jasinda Wilder, author

Your attitude is everything. Believe in yourself and trust your material. To be a successful writer, write every single day where you feel like it or not. Never, never give up, and the world will reward you beyond your wildest dreams. - Alex Haley, author of 'Roots'

Creativity is a wild mind and a disciplined eye. - Dorothy Parker

Imagine that you are dying. If you had a terminal disease would you finish this book? Why not? The thing that annoys this 10-weeks-to-live self is the thing that is wrong with the book. So change it. Stop arguing with yourself. Change it. See? Easy. And no one had to die. - Anne Enright

More people have talent than discipline. That's why discipline pays better. - Mike Price

The three vital lessons about writing: persist, persist, persist. If you're passionate about writing, don't postpone the process. Write every day, filling your life with fearless imagination. Your writing may prove to be a struggle, but the discipline will give form and shape and substance to your life. Work hard. Persist. - Sue Grafton

Every day you write, you become a better writer. Every day you don't write... - Ron Bass (Rain Man, My Best Friend's Wedding)

One hasn't become a writer until one has distilled writing into a habit, and that habit has been forced into an obsession. Writing has to be an obsession. It has to be something as organic, physiological and psychological as speaking or sleeping or eating. - Niyi Osundare, poet

The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair. - Mary Heaton Vorse

What I adore is supreme professionalism. I'm bored by writers who can write only when it's raining. - Noel Coward

Say not, when I have leisure I will study; you may not have leisure. - The Mishnah

The man who fights one more round is never whipped. - Muhammad Ali

You have to keep busy. After all, a dog's never pissed on a moving car. - Tom Waits

And I have this little litany of things they can do. And the first one, of course, is to write--every day, no excuses. It's so easy to make excuses. Even professional writers have days when they'd rather clean the toilet than do the writing. - Octavia Butler

The only 12 1/2 writing rules you'll ever need:
1. If you write every day, you get better at writing every day.
3. Get a writing routine and stick with it.
8. There doesn't always have to be a moral to the story. >br>12 1/2 Stop looking at this poster. Write something!

You don't start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it's good stuff, then gradually you get better at it. That's why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence. - Octavia Butler

Every writer I know has trouble writing. - Joseph Heller


Writer's Block

Best thing for writers' block is a little exercise, get out and row. - William S. Burroughs

We have this idea that we need to be in the mood to write. We don't. - Julie Cameron

Writer's block is real. It happens. Some days you sit down at the old typewriter, put your fingers on the keys, and nothing pops into your head. Blanko, Nada. El nothingissimo. What you do when this happens is what separates you from the one-of-these-days-I'm-gonna-write-a-novel crowd. - James N. Frey

Authors with a mortgage never get writer's block. - Mavis Cheek

Writer's block: When your imaginary friends won't talk to you. - Uknown

I learned to produce whether I wanted to or not. It would be easy to say, Oh, I have writer's block, oh, I have to wait for my muse. I don't. Chain that muse to your desk and get the job done. - Barbara Kingsolver

All writing problems are psychological problems. Blocks usually stem from the fear of being judged. If you imagine the world listening, you'll never write a line. That's why privacy is so important. You should write the first draft as if they will never be shown to anyone. - Erica Jong

Writers Block is just an excuse by people who don’t write for not writing. - Giando Sigurani

Writers block doesn’t exist…lack of imagination does. - Cyrese Covelli

I haven’t had trouble with writers block. I think it’s because my process involves writing very badly. My first drafts are filled with lurching, cliché writing, outright flailing around. Writing that doesn’t have a good voice or any voice. But then there will be good moments. It seems writers block is often a dislike of writing badly and waiting for writing better to happen. - Jennifer Egan

There’s no such thing as writers block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write. - Terry Pratchett

I’ve often said that there’s no such thing as writers block; the problem is idea block. When I find myself frozen whether I’m working on a brief passage in a novel or brainstorming about an entire book, it’s usually because I’m trying to shoehorn an idea into the passage or story where it has no place. - Jeffery Deaver

Writers block? I’ve heard of this. This is when a writer cannot write, yes? Then that person isn’t a writer anymore. I’m sorry, but the job is getting up in the fucking morning and writing for a living. - Warren Ellis



Everything is planned. I spent a long time outlining. It's the only way I know to get all the ducks in a row. . . . The research is the easiest. The outline is the most fun because you can do anything. The first draft is the hardest, because every word of the outline has to be fleshed out. The rewrite is very satisfying, because I feel that everything I do is making the book a little better. - Ken Follett, interview with, December 6, 2002



Of the total creative effort represented in a finished work, 75 percent or more of a writer’s labor goes into designing story. Who are these characters? What do they want? Why do they want it? How do they go about getting it? What stops them? What are the consequences? Finding the answers to these grand questions and shaping them into story is our overwhelming creative task. - Robert McKee, in "Story: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of Screenwriting"

First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him. - Ray Bradbury

My inspiration tends to come from two words. The two most important words to a writer: 'What if?' - Beth Revis

You know you're a writer sound like you're certifiable when you try to explain your plot to others. - Unknown

You know you're a writer find glaring continuity errors in best-selling novels. - Unknown

You know you're a writer've planned the perfect murder at least once. (For a book, of course.) - Unknown

Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations. - Ray Bradbury

The building of the architecture of a novel--the craft of it--is something I never tire of. - John Irving

One barrier to getting started on a novel is fear of the blank page, the empty book stretching ahead... Another is the mistaken belief that creative writing should only be inspired and free-flowing. On the contrary, most successful writers plan, plot and structure first to create a flexible frame and gripping narrative for their characters and setting..." - How to Write Fiction without the Fuss,

Any story about revenge is ultimately a story about forgiveness, redemption, or the futility of revenge. - Nick Wechsler

It is ridiculous to set a detective story in New York City. New York City is itself a detective story. - Agatha Christie

If there was one overarching theme to ‘True Detective,’ I would say it was that, as human beings, we are nothing but the stories we live and die by – so you’d better be careful what stories you tell yourself. - Nic Pizzolatto

What the detective story is about is not murder but the restoration of order. - P. D. James

If I’m home with no chore at hand, and a package of books has come, the television set and the chess board and the unanswered mail will have to manage without me if one of the books is a detective story. - Rex Stout

There came this point where I sat down with all my notebooks and I had to start to write, when I thought: this whole notion of writing for the person who understands nothing, the average reader. He has to die! I can’t have him in my head. And so the person I started writing for was the homicide detective. - David Simon


Pantsing (write by the seat of your pants in front of your writing tool)

Writing a novel is like driving a car at night; You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. - Vladimir Nobokov



The goal, I suppose, any fiction writer has, no matter what your subject, is to hit the human heart and tears ducts and the nape of the neck and to make a person feel something about [what] the characters are going through and to experience the moral paradoxes and struggles of being human. - Tim O'Brien

Anything that doesn’t take years of your life and drive you to suicide hardly seems worth doing. – Cormac McCarthy

Be courageous and try to write in a way that scares you a little. - Holley Gerth

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be. - Douglas Adams



If self-published authors are serious about selling books, and want to be taken as serious writers, they MUST hire a professional editor. - Jerry D. Simmons, author and former executive with The Time Warner Book Group

Proofread carefully to see if you any words out. - Unknown

Write without fear. Edit without mercy. - Unknown

Get feedback--oodles of it. Along the way, show pieces of your book to lots of people--different types of people. Ply them with wine and beg them for candor. - David Shenk

I formed a resolution to never write a word I did not want to write; to think only of my own tastes and ideals, without a thought of those of editors or publishers. - C. S. Forester

No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else’s draft. - H. G. Wells

An editor must engage himself to that most difficult of human problems - making up his mind. - Fredson Bowers


First Drafts

I do a first draft as passionately and quickly as I can. If you interfere in any way, you destroy it. - Ray Bradbury

First drafts are for learning what your novel or story is about. - Bernard Malamud

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. - H.G. Wells



Rewriting is the essence of writing well: it's where the game is won or lost. The idea is hard to accept. We all have emotional equity in our first draft; we can't believe that it wasn't born perfect. But the odds are close to 100 percent that it wasn't. - William Zinzer

An artist never really finishes his work, he merely abandons it. - Paul Valery

I would write a book, or a short story, at least three times--once to understand it, the second time to improve the prose, and a third to compel it to say what it still must say. Somewhere I put it this way: first drafts are for learning what one's fiction wants him to say. Revision works with that knowledge to enlarge and enhance an idea, to reform it. Revision is one of the exquisite pleasures of writing. - Bernard Malamud, "Long Work, Short Life," quoted in The Magic Worlds of Bernard Malamud, by Evelyn Gross Avery, SUNY Press, 2001

Books aren't written - they're rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it. - Michael Crichton

There is no great writing, only great rewriting. - Justice Brandeis

Rewriting is like scrubbing the basement floor with a toothbrush. - Pete Murphy

There are days when the result is so bad that no fewer than five revisions are required. In contrast, when I'm greatly inspired, only four revisions are needed. - John Kenneth Galbraith

I have never thought of myself as a good writer. Anyone who wants reassurance of that should read one of my first drafts. But I'm one of the world's great rewriters. - James A Michener

When you write, you're telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story. - Stephen King

You know you're a writer've somehow forced yourself to write a first draft without stopping to edit along the way. - Unknown

I believe more in scissors than I do in the pencil. - Truman Capote

Editing is like pruning the rose bush you thought was so perfect and beautiful until it overgrew the garden. - Larry Enright

Good writing is rewriting. - Truman Capote

The first draft of anything is shit. - Ernest Hemingway

Writing without revising is the literary equivalent of waltzing gaily out of the house in your underwear. - Patricia Fuller

Nobody cares about your first draft. And that's the thing you may be agonizing over, but honestly, whatever you're doing can be fixed...For now, just get the words out. Get the story down however you can get it down, then fix it. - Neil Gaiman

Almost anyone can write; only writers know how to rewrite. It is this ability alone that turns the amateur into the professional. - William C. Knott

The first draft is just you telling yourself the story. - Terry Pratchett

Going back and editing is the best part of writing; it's like an interactive novel. 'Oh I wish the author used this word here or had this dramatic reveal there...oh that's right! I am the author!' - Mabel E. Wetherbee

By the time I am nearing the end of a story, the first part will have been reread and altered and corrrected at least one hundred and fifty times. I am suspicious of both facility and speed. Good writing is essentially rewriting. I am positive of this. - Roald Dahl

I'm a rewriter. That's the part I like best...once I have a pile of paper to work with, it's like having the pieces of a puzzle. I just have to put the pieces together to make a picture. - Judy Blume

I can’t write five words but that I change seven. – Dorothy Parker

Once you start rewriting, you're not able to stop. With each draft the fundamental banality and worthlessness of the material becomes more evident even as its vitality and spontaneity are drained from it. - Barry N. Malzberg

You can never correct your work well until you have forgotten it. - Voltaire

My own experience is that once a story has been written, one has to cross out the beginning and the end. It is there that we authors do most of our lying. - Anton Chekhov

Writing is rewriting. A writer must learn to deepen characters, trim writing, intensify scenes. To fall in love with a first draft to the point where one cannot change it is to greatly enhance the prospects of never publishing. - Richard North Patterson

To err is human, but when the eraser wears out ahead of the pencil, you're overdoing it. - Josh Jenkins

It is perfectly okay to write garbage--as long as you edit brilliantly. - C.J. Cherryh

I have rewritten--often several times--every word I have ever written. My pencils outlast their erasers. - Vladimir Nabokov

Dreaming and hoping won't produce a piece of work; only writing, rewriting and rewriting (if necessary)--a devoted translation of thoughts and dreams into words on paper--will result in a story. - Roberta Gellis

One should never criticize his own work except in a fresh and hopeful mood. The self-criticism of a tired mind is suicide. - Charles Horton Cooley

Great editors do not discover nor produce great authors; great authors create and produce great publishers. - John Farrar



Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them – in order that the reader may see what they are made of. - Kurt Vonnegut

It's the great writers who teach us how to write. - Madeleine L'Engle

Know your characters so well that when it comes time to write a scene, you sit back and watch him do all the work and you write it down. — Michael Straczynski

Often, a well-chosen detail can tell us more about a character—his social and economic status, his hopes and dreams, his vision of himself—than a long explanatory passage. - Francine Prose , "Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them"

In any story, the villain is the catalyst. The hero’s not a person who will bend the rules or show the cracks in his armor. He’s one-dimensional intentionally, but the villain is the person who owns up to what he is and stands by it. - Marilyn Manson

My only conclusion about structure is that nothing works if you don't have interesting characters and a good story to tell. - Harold Ramis

I like villains because there’s something so attractive about a committed person – they have a plan, an ideology, no matter how twisted. They’re motivated. - Russell Crowe

You know you're a writer when...the first thing you think when you have a problem is: 'What would my protagonist do?' - Unknown

You know you're a writer've cooked and tasted the strangest things because you're determined to create interesting characters with exotic tastes. - Unknown

You know you're a writer have imaginery conversations with the characters in your novel. - Unknown

You know you're a writer think about people's motivations and their actions as if they were characters in your novel. - Unknown

Writers must be fair and remember even bad guys (most of them, anyway) see themselves as good--they are the heroes of their own lives. Giving them a fair chance as characters can create some interesting shades of grey--and shades of grey are also a part of life. - Stephen King

Until we know that a character wants, we don't know what the story is about. Until we know what the stakes are, we don't care. - Unknown

If you're struggling with writing a character, write 20 things that the reader will never know about your character. These will naturally bleed into your writing and provide a richness even though you don't share the detail. - Barabara Poelle

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

The writer is both a sadist and a masochist. We create people we love, and then we torture them. - Janet Fitch

You take people, you put them on a journey, you give them peril, you find out who they really are. - Joss Whedon

The character that lasts is an ordinary guy with some extraordinary qualities. - Raymond Chandler

I start with a tingle, a kind of feeling of the story I will write. Then comes the characters, and they take over, they make the story. - Karen Blixen

The only thing worth writing about is people. People. Human beings. Men and women whose individuality must be created, line by line, insight by insight. If you do not do it, the story is a failure. - Harlan Ellison

I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose. - Stephen King

Every other aspect of your story--plot, theme, genre, exposition, engagement--depends on the characters you create to wrap them around. They are the single element that will keep your readers absorbed; even one believable, fascinating character that inhabits their imagination can make up for less than perfect plotting or writing style. - Lucy McCarraher, from to-create-your-characters/

Respect your characters, even the minor ones. In art, as in life, everyone is the hero of their own particular story; it is worth thinking about what your minor characters' stories are, even though they may intersect only slightly with your protagonist's.- Sarah Waters

When you tell [show] readers that your characters are hearing, tasting, smelling, touching, and seeing, then your readers will experience it all, too, and they'll be drawn into your story. - Gail Carson Levine

Your characters are no caricatures. Make them human by giving them real issues and flaws. Only then will your reader connect with them. - Unknown

I've learned to let my characters speak and act the way they want to! I've tried to interfere but they just get angry at me and throw big rocks. - Shandy K. Kurth

If you're writing about a character, if he's a powerful character, unless you give him a vulnerability I don't think he'll be as interesting to the reader. - Stan Lee

I often find myself eavesdropping on the conversations of people who don't exist. I'm a writer. That's my excuse and I'm sticking with it. - Devorah Fox

It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does. - William Faulkner

Scenes are the workhorse of fiction. Characters hold the reins and call out the commands. - Elizabeth Lyon

I don't want to spoil the magic, but it's a very curious thing that honestly baffles me. It's the nearest we'll ever get to playing God, to suddenly produce these fully formed characters. It is a bit odd. Other aspects you work out more--you rework sentences, you rework imagery. But not characters. - Kate Atkinson

In every novel, the character is a collage: a collage of different characters that you've known, or heard about or read about. - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

To imagine yourself inside another what a story writer does in every piece of work; it is his first step, and his last too, I suppose. - Eudora Welty

Story is stuff happening to people you care about. -Jon Land, author

I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I'm afraid of. - Joss Whedon

After a while, the characters I'm writing begin to feel real to me. That's when I know I'm heading in the right direction. - Alice Hoffman

A really good detective never gets married. - Raymond Chandler

The English tradition offers the great tapestry novel, where you have the emotional aspect of a detective’s personal life, the circumstances of the crime and, most important, the atmosphere of the English countryside that functions as another character. - Elizabeth George

The best part of the fiction in many novels is the notice that the characters are purely imaginary. -- Franklin P. Adams

When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature. - Ernest Hemingway

When I used to teach creative writing, I would tell the students to make their characters want something right away even if it's only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time. - Kurt Vonnegut

Writing has made me rich--not in money but in a couple hundred characters out there, whose pursuits and anguish and triumphs I've shared. I am unspeakably grateful at the life I have come to lead. - Wright Morris

Characters that seem to live are the most important single element in the novel. No one remembers novels for their style, or for the skills with which their plots were constructed. - NANCY HALE, The Realities of Fiction



Find a subject you care about and which in your heart you feel others should care about. It is the genuine caring, and not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style. - Kurt Vonnegut

Always grab the reader by the throat in the first paragraph, sink your thumbs into his windpipe in the second, and hold him against the wall until the tag line. — Paul O'Neil



Dialogue is not just quotation. It is grimaces, pauses, adjustments of blouse buttons, doodles on a napkin, and crossings of legs. - Jerome Stern, Making Shapely Fiction, 1991

All the information you need can be given in dialogue. - Elmore Leonard



Be specific. Don’t say “fruit.” Tell what kind of fruit—“It is a pomegranate.” Give things the dignity of their names…It is much better to say “the geranium in the window” than “the flower in the window.” Geranium—that one word gives us a much more specific picture. It penetrates more deeply into the beingness of that flower. It immediately gives us the scene by the window—red petals, green circular leaves, all straining toward sunlight. - Natalie Goldberg, "Writing Down the Bones"

In general, you want to put in details that reveal character, or move the story along, or establish the setting or the atmosphere. The best details do more than one at the same time. - Gail Carson Levine in "Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly"

When you are describing, a shape, or sound, or tint; Don’t state the matter plainly, but put it in a hint; and learn to look at all things, with a sort of mental squint. - Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll)

I think that novels that leave out technology misrepresent life as badly as Victorians misrepresented life by leaving out sex. - Kurt Vonnegut, A Man without a Country

You know you're a writer interpret non-verbal clues better than most body language experts. - Unknown

You know you're a writer make random odd expressions because you're checking to see if you described them correctly. - Unknown

You know you're a writer've tracked down and deleted your early online posts because the writing errors kept you awake at night. - Unknown

If a writer stops observing he is finished. Experience is communicated by small details intimately observed. - Enrest Hemingway

In displaying the psychology of your characters, minute particulars are essential. God save us from vague generalizations! - Anton Chekhov

Setting is not just about location. It is also about historical period and the society, ethos and culture that pertain to that time. They are how we understand the way characters think and behave, and the factors that drive them. - Lucy McCarraher

There's always room for a story that can transport people to another place. - J. K. Rowling

For me, a page of good prose is where one hears the rain [and] the noise of battle. - John Cheever



In the long run, people will forget what you say; they will forget what you do; but they will never forget the way you made them feel. - Maya Angelou

At the end of the day people won't remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel. - Maya Angelou

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader. - Robert Frost

All fiction, if it's successful, is going to appeal to the emotions. Emotion is really what fiction is all about. - George R. Martin

Really good writing, from my perspective, runs a lot like a visual on a screen. You need to create that kind of detail and have crediblity with the reader, so the reader knows that you were really there, that you really experienced it, that you know the details. That comes out of seeing. - Ann Viskamp

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


Show versus Tell

Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. - Anton Chekhov

One of the cardinal rules of good fiction is never tell us a thing if you can show us instead. - Stephen King



I am convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing. - Stephen King

Hemingway didn't know he was Ernest Hemingway when he was a young man. Faulkner didn't know he was William Faulkner. But they had to take the first step. They had to call themselves writers. That is the revoluntionary act a writer has to make. It takes courage. But it's necessary. - Pat Conroy

Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open. - Natalie Goldberg

All my life, I've been frightened at the moment I sit down to write. - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Our doubts are traitors,
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt.
- William Shakespeare

You need a certain amount of nerve to be a writer. - Margaret Atwood

The fear of rejection is worse than rejection itself. - Nora Profit

To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong. - Joseph Chilton Pearce



It's a wonderful thing to be able to create your own world when you want to. - Woody Allen

Art is the manipulation of someone else's imagination. - Sol Saks, Funny Business

Without this playing with fantasy no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of the imagination is incalculable. - Carl Jung

A writer's job is to imagine everything so personally that the fiction is as vivid as memories. - John Irving



You have to dream intentionally. Most people dream a dream when they are asleep. But to be a writer, you have to dream while you are awake, intentionally. - Haruki Murakami

Imagination grows by exercise, and contrary to common belief, is more powerful in the mature than in the young. - W. Somerset Maugham



I meet far too many people who are going to be writers 'someday.' When they are out of high school, when they've finished college, after the wedding, when the kids are older, after I retire... That is such a trap. You will never have any more free time than you do right now. So whether you are 12 or 70, you should sit down and start being a writer if that is what you want to do. - Robin Hobb

CAUTION: Writing may cause one to be sucked into a time vortex. The writer will forget to eat, breathe, or even go to the bathroom because the characters demand all of the writer's attention! - Lidia Adaman-Tremblay

Writing is 90 percent procrastination: magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials. - Paul Rudnick

You know the future is happening when you start feeling scared. - Douglas Coupland

Two hours of writing fiction leaves this writer completely drained. For those two hours he has been in a different place with totally different people. - Roald Dahl

There is no perfect time to write. There's only now. - Barbara Kingsolver

It takes most of us a long time to learn our craft. So keep at it. Don't give up. - Jacqueline Briskin



To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life. - W. Somerset Maugham

You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend. - Paul Sweeney

The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries. - Descartes

Writing and reading is to me synonymous with existing. - Gertrude Stein

We live and breathe words. .... It was books that made me feel that perhaps I was not completely alone. They could be honest with me, and I with them. Reading your words, what you wrote, how you were lonely sometimes and afraid, but always brave; the way you saw the world, its colors and textures and sounds, I felt--I felt the way you thought, hoped, felt, dreamt. I felt I was dreaming and thinking and feeling with you. I dreamed what you dreamed, wanted what you wanted--and then I realized that truly I just wanted you. - Cassandra Clare

Books are a uniquely portable magic. - Stephen King

What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though. - J.D. Salinger

Read, read, read. Read everything...trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it's good, you find out. If it's not, throw it out the window. - William Faulkner

A writer only begins a book. A reader finishes it. - Samuel Johnson

If you want to be a good writer, read good writing. - Gene Wolfe

All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer. - Ernest Hemingway

We read five words on the first page of a really good novel and we begin to forget that we are printed words on a page; we begin to see images. - John Gardner

The reader wants to be involved in a mutual act of seduction, and there is no excitement in seducing a whore. - Umberto Eco -- New York Times, Nov. 28 1995

A book is a device to ignite the imagination. - Alan Bennett, The Uncommon Reader

Once I began to read, I began to exist. - Walter Dean Myers

Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul. - Joyce Carol Oates

Technique holds a reader from sentence to sentence, but only content will stay in his mind. - Joyce Carol Oates

Bookish Problem #186
Thinking about characters long after you've finished a book and wondering what's become of them. - Unknown

The act of reading is a partnership. The author builds [a] house, but the reader makes it a home. - Jodi Picoult

It was books that made me feel that perhaps I wasn't completely alone. - William Herondale

A reader doesn't really see the characters in a story; he feels them. - Cornelia Funke

Once you have learned to read you will be forever free. - Frederick Douglas

I read a book one day and my whole life was changed. - Omar Pamuck, The New Life

You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend. - Paul Sweeney

When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young. - Maya Angelou

That moment when you finish a book, look around, and realize that everyone is just carrying on with their lives as though you didn't just experience emotional trauma at the hands of a paperback. - Unknown

That moment when you're reading a book and the whole world around you does not exist anymore. - Unknown

Book hangover: Inability to start a new book because you're still living in the last book's world. - Unknown

The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries. - Descartes

There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all. - Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they really happened and after you are finished reading one you feel that it all happened to you and after which it all belongs to you. - Ernest Hemingway

A good book will pull you in from the beginning and take you on a journey you'll never forget. - Lauren Hammond

I'd like to emphasize that when a reader finishes a great novel, he will immediately begin looking for another. If someone loves your book, it increases the change that he or she will look at mine. So there is no competition between writers. Another writer's success helps build a larger readership for all of us. - David Farland

A writer only begins a book. A reader finishes it. - Samuel Johnson

Read a thousand books, and your words will flow like a river. - Lisa See

Through our reading we can travel to other times and other places, into other people's minds and hearts and souls: it is a transcendant experience. - Louise DeSalvo

But the purpose of a story is to teach and to please at once, and what is teaches is how to recognize the snares of the world. - Umberto Eco

I feel like reading really defined me as a writer because I lived my life outside of my own body for so much my life and I loved it. I've always been a reader. I think living all those stories served me to naturally take that next step to creating. - Stephenie Meyer

Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another's skin, another's voice, another's soul. - Joyn Carol Oates

If one reads enough books one has a fighting chance. Or better, one's chances of survival increase with each book one reads. - Serman Alexie

When you sell a man a book you don't sell just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue--you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night--there's all heaven and earth in a book, a real book. - Christopher Morley

No entertainment is so cheap as reading , nor any pleasure so lasting. - Mary Wortley Montagu

The reason that fiction is more interesting than any other form of literature, to those who really like to study people, is that in fiction the author can really tell the truth without humiliating himself. - Eleanor Roosevelt

Behind every stack of books is a flood of knowledge. - Unknown

The greatest gift is a passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you the knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is moral illumination. - Elizabeth Hardwick

A good book should leave you slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while it. - Unknown

Post-Reading Depression: when you realize it was all just a story in a book. - Unknown

My first thought after I finish an amazing book: 'Well this sucks. What am I supposed to do with myself now?' - Unknown

Reading gives one something to think about other than one's self. - Tom Rissell

I hate that sad moment when you return to ordinary life after reading an aswesome book. - Unknown

A book hangover is the inability to start a new book because you're still living in the last book's world. - Unknown

You know the book is good when you realize you've been reading it for hours when you only wanted to read for a few minutes. - Unknown

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one. - George R. R. Martin

We read just five words of a good novel and we forget we're printed words on a page; we begin to see images. - John Gardner

Cooking and cleaning are for people that haven't discovered reading yet. - Unknown

I am a reader not because I don't have a life because I choose to have many. - Unknown

You can't buy happiness, but you can buy books and that's kind of the same thing. - Unknown

At one magical instant in your early childhood, the page of a book--that string of confused, alien ciphers--shivered into meaning. Words spoke to you, gave up their secrets; at that moment, whole universes opened. You became, irrevocably, a reader. - Albert Manguel, A History of

A child who reads will be an adult who thinks. - Unknown

One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for 1,000 years. To read is to voyage through time. - Carl Sagan

You can't overdose on books. - Unknown

Man was very fortunate to have invented the book. Without it, the past would completely vanish, and we would be left with nothing. We would be naked on Earth. - James Salter, 1925-2015

Reading is a discount ticket to everywhere. - Mary Schmich

The more a child reads, the likelier they are able to understand the emotions of others. - Unknown

It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most the were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive. - James Baldwin

Ending a novel is almost like putting a child to sleep--it can't be done abruptly. - Colm Toibin

If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you become what everyone else is thinking. - Haruki Murakami

A good book makes you want to live in the story. A great book gives you no choice. - Unknown

One sure window into a person's soul is his reading list. - Mary B. W. Tabor

Technique holds a reader from sentence to sentence, but only content will stay in his mind. - Joyce Carol Oates

Everybody else is working to change, persuade, tempt and control them. The best readers come to fiction to be free of all that noise. - Philip Roth

Description begins in the writer's imagination, but should finish in the reader's. - Stephen King

Books are humanity in print. - Barbara W. Tuchman

A good story should make you laugh, and a moment later break your heart. - Chuck Palahniuk

What an astonishing thing a book is. It's a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glace at it and you're inside the mind of another person.... A book if proof that humans are capable of working magic. - Carl Sagan

Readers, after all, are making the world with you. You give the materials, but it's the readers who build that world in their minds. - Ursula Le Guin

Reading usually precedes and the impulse to write is almost always fired by reading. Reading, the love of reading, is what makes you dream of becoming a writer. - Susan Sontag

Reading is always an act of empathy. It's always an imagining of what it's like to be someone else. - John Green

I really think that reading is just as important as writing when you're trying to be a writer because it's the only apprentistship we have, it's the only way of learning how to write a story. - John Green

If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that. - Stephen King

It is what you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it. - Oscar Wilde

The real test is what books are gonna survive. Tolkien certainly has...Will that be the case with mine? I don't know. I think that's every writer's dream. What you can do is write the best characters you can. I take it very well the fact that people argue about my books--a writer's worst dream is obscurity. I had years of no one coming to my signings. - George R. R. Martin

Reading is a discount ticket to everywhere. - Mary Schmich

A novel is way to living in another person's reality for a time. - Kate Grinville

Fiction gives us a second chance that life denies us. - Paul Theroux

It’s in literature that true life can be found. It’s under the mask of fiction that you can tell the truth. - Gao Xingjian

A book is a dream that you hold in your hand. – Neil Gaiman

The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story. – Ursula Le Guin

Fiction is about stuff that’s screwed up. - Nancy Kress

To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark. - Victor Hugo

Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development.... Literacy is a platform for democratisation, and a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity....For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right.... Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential. - Kofi Annan

There are many little ways to enlarge your child's world. Love of books is the best of all. - Jacqueline Kennedy

So it is with children who learn to read fluently and well: They begin to take flight into whole new worlds as effortlessly as young birds take to the sky. - William James

We read to know we are not alone. - C.S. Lewis

Once you learn to read, you will be forever free. - Frederick Douglass

Fairy tales in childhood are stepping stones throughout life, leading the way through trouble and trial. The value of fairy tales lies not in a brief literary escape from reality, but in the gift of hope that goodness truly is more powerful than evil and that even the darkest reality can lead to a Happily Ever After. Do not take that gift of hope lightly. It has the power to conquer despair in the midst of sorrow, to light the darkness in the valleys of life, to whisper One more time in the face of failure. Hope is what gives life to dreams, making the fairy tale the reality. - L.R. Knost

Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light. - Vera Nazarian

You may have tangible wealth untold; caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be. I had a mother who read to me. - Strickland Gillilan

When readers find a book they like, they want more of the same. Series provide that. Standalone books, while perhaps still all written in your voice, don’t always translate into more of the same for the reader. You know how some families vacation at the same spot every year? It’s the same for readers. When they fall in love with a place and characters you’ve written, they want to go back there. Again and again and again. - Kristen Painter, author

Reading, the love of reading, is what makes you dream of becoming a writer. - Susan Sontag

Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future. - Ray Bradbury

What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree, with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny, dark squiggles. But one glance at it, and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic. - Carl Sagan

Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries. - Anne Herbert

Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations. - Henry David Thoreau

When I got my library card, that’s when my life began. - Rita Mae Brown

Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators. - Stephen Fry

Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. - Unknown

Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss. - Nora Ephron

Our favorite book is always the book that speaks most directly to us at a particular stage in our lives. And our lives change.

We have other favorites that give us what we most need at that particular time. - Lloyd Alexander

You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive. - James Baldwin

When you absolutely positively have to know, ask a librarian. - American Library Association

Books are like mirrors: if a fool looks in, you cannot expect a genius to look out. - J. K. Rowling

Often while reading a book one feels that the author would have preferred to paint rather than write; one can sense the pleasure he derives from describing a landscape or a person, as if he were painting what he is saying, because deep in his heart he would have preferred to use brushes and colors. - Pablo Picasso

Learn as much by writing as by reading. - Lord Acton

Lovers of print are simply confusing the plate for the food. - Douglas Adams

This is a book which should not be tossed aside lightly; rather, it should be hurled with great force. - Dorothy Parker

If you would be a writer, first be a reader. Only through the assimilation of ideas, thoughts and philosophies can one begin to focus his own ideas, thoughts and philosophies. - Allan W. Eckert

Read a lot, finding out what kind of writing turns you on, in order to develop a criterion for your own writing. And then trust it--and yourself. - Rosemary Daniell

I like density, not volume. I like to leave something to the imagination. The reader must fit the pieces together, with the author's discreet help. - Maureen Howard

A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your question answered. Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people – people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book. - E. B. White

We all know that books burn, yet we have the greater knowledge that books cannot be killed by fire. People die, but books never die. No man and no force can put thought in a concentration camp forever. No man and no force can take from the world the books that embody man’s eternal fight against tyranny of every kind. – Franklin D. Roosevelt

My house is a library with living rooms attached. - Bernard Berenson

Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending. - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

How good it is to be among people who are reading. - Rainer Maria Rilke

Reading is the creative center of a writer's life. I take a book with me everywhere I go.
- Stephen King

You have to read widely, constantly refining (and redefining) your own work as you do so.
It's hard for me to believe that people who read very little (or not at all in some cases)
should presume to write and expect people to like what they have written, but I know it's
true.... - Stephen King

If you don;t have the time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write.
Simple as that. - Stephen King

Just the knowledge that a good book is awaiting one at the end of a long day makes that
day happier. - Kathleen Norris

Books are made out of books. - Cormac McCarthy

A capacity and taste for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered
by others. - Abraham Lincoln

Becoming the reader is the essence of becoming a writer. - Unknown

Learn as much by writing as by reading. - Lord Action

Not sure what to do with an extra hour? Read. - Unknown

The greatest gift is a passion for reading. - Elizabeth Hardwick

I love the fact that when I open a new book, I am invited to a new world, a new universe,
and a whole new life without leaving my bedroom. - Unknown

Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life. - Fernando Pessoa

Books give us the panoramic spectrum of possibilities for encountering life in a new way.
- J. Michael Martin

There is no Bookaholics Anonymous because no one wants to quit. - Unknown

Great books help you understand and they help you feel understood. - John Green

You know the book is good when you realize you've been reading for hours when you only
wanted to read for a few minutes. - Unknown

Work gets in the way of a good book, so does laundry, cleaning, cooking, sleeping, and
kids. Next book, please!! - Unknown


Getting published

That's very nice if they want to publish you, but don't pay too much attention to it. It will toss you away. Just continue to write. - Natalie Goldberg

Almost anyone can be an author; the business is to collect money and fame from this state of being. - A. A. Milne

The free-lance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps. - Robert Benchley (1889-1945), U.S. humorous writer.

If you want to get rich from writing, write the sort of thing that's read by persons who move their lips when they're to themselves. - Don Marquis

There's only one thing more frightening than being asked to do a book tour, and that's not being asked to do a book tour. - Gerald Petievich

We have read your manuscript with boundless delight. If we were to publish your paper, it would be impossible for us to publish any work of lower standard. And as it is unthinkable that in the next thousand years we shall see its equal, we are, to our regret, compelled to return your divine composition, and to beg you a thousand times to overlook our short sight and timidity. - from The Humanist Association of Canada Spring 1992 Newsletter, which also noted "For writers only - Every writer has received rejection slips; too many of them for most. The "Financial Times" has quoted the 'mother of all rejection slips', translated from a Chinese economic journal."

The shelf life of the modern hardback writer is somewhere between the milk and the yoghurt. - John Mortimer (b. 1923), British barrister, novelist. Quoted in: Times (London, 27 Dec. 1987).

Someday I hope to write a book where the royalties will pay for the copies I give away. - Clarence Darrow

Manuscript: something submitted in haste and returned at leisure. - Oliver Herford

For several days after my first book was published, I carried it about in my pocket and took surreptitious peeps at it to make sure the ink had not faded. - Sir James M. Barrie

If you want to be a writer, write. If you want to be a good writer, learn the craft and the art of writing. If you want to be a published writer, don't give up. - Larry Lovan

There is a word for a writer who never gives up...Published. - Joe Konrath

The moment [one] writes for publication, one stiffens in exactly the same way one does when one is being photographed. The simplest way to overcome this is to write to someone...your audience is one single reader...a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one. - John Steinbeck

This is for writers yet to be published who think the uphill climb will never end. Keep believing. This is also for published writers grown jaded by the process. Remember how lucky you are. - Terry Brooks

You want to be a writer? A writer is someone who writes every day--so start writing. - Shonda Rhimes

I still encourage anyone who feels at all compelled to write to do so. I just try to warn people who hope to get published that publication is not all it is cracked up to be. But writing is. Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do—the actual act of writing—turns out to be the best part. It’s like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward. – Anne Lamott


Editors, publishers

There are two kinds of editors, those who correct your copy and those who say it's wonderful. - Theodore H. White

Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers. - T. S. Eliot

As difficult as it is for a writer to find a publisher--admittedly a daunting task--it is twice as difficult for a publisher to sort through the chaff, select the wheat, and profitably publish a worthy list. - Olivia Goldsmith

One of the signs of Napoleon's greatness is the fact that he once had a publisher shot. - Siegfried Unseld

You ask for the distinction between 'Editor' and 'Publisher': an editor selects manuscripts; a publisher selects editors. - Max Schuster

The writer who can't do his job looks to his editor to do it for him, though he won't dream of sharing his royalties with that editor. - Alfred Knopf

In the publishing business you have to learn to greet failure with the same handshake as you would success. - Eddie Bell

Publishers are all cohorts of the devil; there must be a special hell for them somewhere. - Goethe

Everyone needs an editor. - Tim Foote

Publishing is no longer simply a matter of picking worthy manuscripts and putting them on offer. It is now as important to market books properly, to work with the bookstore chains to get terms, co-op advertising, and the like. The difficulty is that publishers who can market are most often not the publishers with worthy lists. - Olivia Goldsmith

The publisher is a middleman, he calls the tune to which the whole rest of the trade dances; and he does so because he pays the piper. - Geoffrey Faber

Editors seek out the first novels with the seductiveness of Don Juans; the pleasure of discovery is one of the obvious reasons. - William Targ

I see my [editorial] role as helping the writer to realize his or her intention. I never want to impose any other goal on the writer, and I never want the book to be mine.- Faith Sale

The job of an editor in a publishing house is the dullest, hardest, most exciting, exasperating and rewarding of perhaps any job in the world. - John Hall Wheelock

Not all writers can work with all editors. A project that is taken on with great enthusiasm by an editor may bog down because the chemistry isn't right. - Betty A. Prashker

'The New York Times' list is a bunch of crap. They ought to call it the editor's choice. It sure isn't based on sales. - Howard Stern

The successful editor is one who is constantly finding new writers, nurturing their talents, and publishing them with critical and financial success. - A. Scott Berg

One should fight like the devil the temptation to think well of editors. They are all, without exception--at least some of the time--incompetent or crazy. - John Gardner

Write drunk, edit sober. - Ernest Hemingway



It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again; but who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his space shall never be one with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat. - Theodore Roosevelt

The public is the only critic whose opinion is worth anything at all. - Mark Twain

Pay no attention to what the critics say; there has never been set up a statue in honor of a critic. - Jean Sibelius, classical music composer

Critics are like eunuchs in a harem: they know how it's done, they've seen it done every day, but they're unable to do it themselves. - Brendan Francis Behan

Asking a working writer what he feels about critics is like asking a lamp-post what it feels about dogs. - John Osborne

It's those damn critics again. - Irwin Shaw

There's an enormous difference between being a critic and a reviewer. The reviewer reacts to the experience of that book. - Christopher Lehmann-Haupt

I am forced to say that I have many fiercer critics than myself. - Irwin Shaw

By and large, the critics and readers gave me an affirmed sense of my identity as a writer. You might know this within yourself, but to have it affirmed by others is of utmost importance. Writing is, after all, a form of communication. - Ralph Ellison

Don't bow down to critics who have not themselves written great masterpieces. - Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Honest criticism is hard to take, particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintaince, or a stranger. - Franklin Jones

Listen carefully to first criticisms made of your work. Note just what it is about your work that critics don't like--then cultivate it. That's the only part of your work that's individual and worth keeping. - Jean Coctea

Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae. - Kurt Vonnegut



Cut out all those exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke. - F. Scott Fitzgerald

Most people use twenty verbs to describe everything from a run in their stocking to the explosion of an atomic bomb. You know the ones: Was, did, had, made, went, looked… One-size-fits-all looks like crap on anyone. Sew yourself a custom made suit. Pick a better verb. Challenge all those verbs to really lift some weight for you. — Janet Fitch

Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space. - Orson Scott Card

If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn't matter a damn how you write. - W. Somerset Maugham

Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college. - Kurt Vonnegut, A Man without a Country

You know you're a writer when...forgetting a word you want to use in a story can ruin your day. - Unknown

Assuming you can write clear English sentences, give up all worry about communication. If you want to communicate, use the telephone. - Richard Hugo

Successful writers are not the ones who write the best sentences. They are the ones who keep writing. They are the ones who discover what is most important and strangest and most pleasurable in themselves, and keep believing in the value of their work, despite the difficulties. - Bonnie Friedman



Success comes to a writer as a rule, so gradually that it is always something of a shock to him to look back and realize the heights to which he has climbed. - P.G. Wodehouse

I'd like to have money. And I'd like to be a good writer. These two can come together, and I hope they will, but if that's too adorable, I'd rather have money. - Dorothy Parker



To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. - Herman Melville


Science Fiction

Any planet is ‘Earth’ to those that live on it. - Isaac Asimov

If you think this Universe is bad, you should see some of the others. - Phillip K. Dick

Wandering around the web is like living in a world in which every doorway is actually one of those fiction devices which deposit you in a completely different part of the world when you walk through them. In fact, it isn’t like it, it is it. - Douglas Adams

Politicians should read fiction, not westerns and detective stories. - Arthur C. Clarke

If science fiction is the mythology of modern technology, then its myth is tragic. - Ursula K. Le Guin

We don’t create a fantasy world to escape reality. We create it to be able to stay. - Lynda Barry

Natural selection won't matter soon, not anywhere as much as concious selection. We will civilize and alter ourselves to suit our ideas of what we can be. Within one more human lifespan, we will have changed ourselves unrecognizably. - Greg Bear

If hyperspace did not already exist, science fiction writers would have had to invent it. - Peter Oakley

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. - Arthur C. Clarke, British writer

There is no sight finer than that of planet Earth in your rear-view mirror. - Unknown

There can be no thought of finishing, for 'aiming for the stars,' both literally and figuratively, is a problem to occupy generations, so that no matter how much progress one makes, there is always the thrill of just beginning. - Dr. Robert Goddard (in a letter to H. G. Wells)

Space isn't remote at all. It's only an hour's drive away if your car could go straight upwards. - Fred Hoyle


Lying under such a myriad of stars. The sea’s black horizon. He rose and walked out and stood barefoot in the sand and watched the pale surf appear all down the shore and roll and crash and darken again. When he went back to the fire he knelt and smoothed her hair as she slept and he said if he were God he would have made the world just so and no different. - Cormac Mccarthy

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