Creative Writing Advice

In 1971 she was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for her volume of poetry, “Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘Fore I Diiie.’” The following quote by Angelou is very reminiscent of Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk at entitled “A Different Way to Think About Creative Genius”: “What I try to do is write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. She adds that her family was very strange, and that she didn’t have to invent anything for her stories: everything was given to her.

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When it comes to the reading part of it, King explained during a lecture at Yale that if you read enough, there’s this magic moment which will always come to you if you want to be a writer. Jotted below the machine-generated signature of the editor was this mot: “Not bad, but PUFFY. He explains that before you can be a writer you have to experience some things, see some of the world, go through things–love, heartbreak, and so on–, because you need to have something to say. Once you’re secure in life and you have a regular paycheck, then you can think about becoming a serious writer.“If you want to be a writer,” says Stephen King , “you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” King, who has written over 50 books, emphasizes that writers have to be well-read. And this guy got published.” So go ahead, read all you can, and wait for that magical moment. “On Writing”–published in 2000–is both a textbook for writers and a memoir of King’s life.He adds that he has no patience for people who tell him that they want to be writers but they can’t find the time to read. Here’s an excerpt from “On Writing” in which King offers advice on pacing: “Mostly when I think of pacing, I go back to Elmore Leonard, who explained it so perfectly by saying he just left out the boring parts.It is this genuine caring, and not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.” In the book “Bagombo Snuff Box”–an assortment of his short stories published in 1999, Vonnegut listed eight rules for writing a short story: 1. The day before the report was due he was sitting at the kitchen table at the family’s cabin surrounded by unopened books on birds, immobilized by the huge task ahead of him.Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water. Every sentence must do one of two things-reveal character or advance the action. He was close to tears when his father walked up, put his arm around his shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy.Many writers would argue that the hardest part of writing is beginning.When asked what was the most frightening thing he had ever encountered, novelist Ernest Hemingway said, “A blank sheet of paper.” Other writers believe that ideas are easy, it’s in the execution of those ideas that the hard work really begins.Hemingway–knicknamed Papa–offers more invaluable writing tips in a rare interview he did with George Plimpton, original editor of “The Paris Review”, the magazine credited with inventing the modern literary interview. Hemingway: No, I make a list of titles after I’ve finished the story or the book–sometimes as many as 100.Here are some of the insights he offered during the inteview conducted in the Spring of 1958 (Source: “Conversations With Ernest Hemingway“): Interviewer: How much rewriting do you do? Then I start eliminating them, sometimes all of them.Hemingway: It depends, I re-wrote the ending to “Farewell to Arms”, the last page of it, thirty-nine times before I was satisfied. —————————————————- Interviewer: Who would you say are your literary forebears, those you have learned the most from? ————————————————- If you enjoy reading writer interviews, The Paris Review’s Writers at Work interview series has elicited many of the most arresting, illuminating, and revealing discussions of life and craft from the greatest writers of our time.Interviewer: Was there some technical problem there? Hemingway: Mark Twain, Flaubert, Stendhal, Bach, Turgeniev, Tolstoi, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Andrew Marvell, John Donne, Maupassant, the good Kipling, Thoreau, Captain Marryat, Shakespeare, Mozart, Quevedo, Dante, Virgil, Tintoretto . They’ve compiled their best interviews into three volumes: The Paris Review Interviews, I; The Paris Review Interviews, II; The Paris Review Interviews, III. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.


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