Tips From The Masters

December 10, 2008


Here are some tips for a few of the Masters in the writing field.



“Plotting is a process akin to jazz, improvisation: You establish a theme, then improvise on it. I do this on a chapter-by-chapter basis, planning the events that take place, then improvising the writing. I begin this improvisation with a situation (i.e., protagonist discovers skeleton) and build from there.” Stuart Woods. 2004.



“A deadline puts you up against the wall. That’s how I do all my writing. If I Don’t have a deadline from someone else, I make a deadline.” Natalie Goldberg. 2001.



“I don’t think any writer is ever ‘written out’. It seems to me that the dullest-seeming life iv the world provides material for masterpiece after masterpiece. What fails isn’t material or experience but energy, the imaginative energy to dig down deeply into your subject, where the truth about it lies, the artistic energy to form what you find there as it should be formed, and finally the brute physical energy … to put it in words on paper.” John Knowles. 1962.




“Finish it. The idea isn’t the trick; the execution is everything. Any story will do as long as you execute it well.” Robert B. Parker. 2003.



“Remove yourself from the picture. Put yourself completely as the disposal of your characters, your situation, your story. Don’t give in to temptation to show off or to indulge yourself. No one is reading the book to find out about you. Quit the opposite. A good book will help the readers find out more about themselves.” Mark Haddon. 2005.



“Imagery does not occur on the writer’s page; it occurs in the reader’s mind. To describe everything is to supply a photograph in words; to indicate the points which seem the most vivid and important to you, the writer, is to allow the reader to flesh out your sketch into a portrait. …

“Good description produces imagery. The next question that always comes is, ‘How do I know what details to include and which to leave out?’ The answer to the question is simply stated but more difficult to apply: Leave in the details that impress you the most strongly; leave in the details you see the most clearly; leave everything else out.” Stephen King. 1980.



“Every detail you include for the character has to be psychologically true to that character. And that’s something you can only accomplish with time. You cam write something and think it’s terrific and really be married to the sentence – and get distracted by the fact that the detail in that lovely sentence doesn’t really fit the character. So you have to be very careful. Care and time will prove to you whether those details actually work. God, I’ve come to agree, is in the detail.” Jane Hamilton. 2001.



“Edit. Edit. Edit. Scrape off the dirt so that the diamond can shine. A lot of writing is knowing what to take away. Compose with utter freedom and edit with utter discipline.

“The two processes must be divorced from each other. Horace once said that a writer must keep his piece nine years. In our instant-gratification world, where novels feed on headlines, nine years seems like an eternity. Still, let some time elapse between composition and final editing. When you come back, you will see it with fresh eyes.” Erica Jong. 2003.



“That’s the real secret of writing – creating something that is logical enough to be believable and magical enough so that readers will care what happens to the characters in the story.” J.A. Jance. 2004.


I hope you enjoyed these quotes and tit-bits if information. See you next time.