Monday, April 05, 2010

Tips from the Guardian

The Guardian recently printed a series of ten tips on writing each from a multitude of well- known writers. There must be hundreds, ranging from useful to witty to odd, and you should read them all for amusement if nothing else. Lib typed out a few I found useful below.

Hilary Mantel
Write a book you’d like to read. If you wouldn’t read it, who would anybody else? Don’t write for a perceived audience or market. It may well have vanished by the time the book’s ready.

Michael Moorcock
If you are writing a plot-driven genre novel make sure all your major themes/plot elements are introduced in the first third, which you can call the introduction.

Develop your themes and characters in your second third, the development.

Resolve your themes, mysteries and so-on in the final third, the resolution.

Carrot and stick – have protagonists pursued (by an obsession or a villain) and pursuing (idea, object, person, mystery.)

Michael Morpurgo
Once the book is finished in its first draft, I read it aloud to myself. How it sounds is hugely important.

Annie Proulx
Proceed slowly and take care.

To ensure that you proceed slowly, write by hand.

Write slowly and by hand only about subjects that interest you.

Develop craftsmanship through years of wide reading.

Diana Athill
You don’t always have to go so far as to murder your darlings – those turns of phrase or images of which you felt extra proud when they appeared on the page – but go back and look at them with a very beady eye. Almost always it turns out that they’d be better dead. (Not every little twinge of satisfaction is suspect – it’s the ones which amount to a sort of smug glee you must watch out for.)

Margaret Atwood
Don’t sit down in the middle of the woods. If you’re lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page.

Roddy Doyle
Do be kind to yourself. Fill pages as quickly as possible; double space, or write on every second line. Regard every new page as a small triumph.

Helen Dunmore
Finish the day’s writing when you still want to continue. [Hemingway said it first--SB]

A problem piece of writing often clarifies itself if you go for a long walk.

Geoff Dyer
Never worry about the commercial possibilities of a project.

Esther Freud
Editing is everything. Cut until you can cut no more. What is left often springs into life.

Find your best time of day for writing and write. Don’t let anything else interfere. Afterwards it won’t matter to you that the kitchen is a mess.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oy! This isn't just good advice for writing...

"Don’t sit down in the middle of the woods"

I did this last year, in May (the peak of tick season here), wearing shorts - and found an evil arachnid attached to a rather sensitive part of my anatomy.

From now on I'll sit on a bench or tree branch when I want to read in the woods...