Writing tips from authors

The best advice on writing you can ever receive is from a writer, someone who knows the industry, with all the positives and negatives, like the back of their hand. So here is a list of some of the best advice from some of the best in the business.

Elmore Leonard
Leonard says that you should never start off a book by discussing the weather, unless it is to create atmosphere. He also states that you should also not go on for too long, as the reader will skip ahead. He also jokes by saying that there are exceptions to the rule, like if you are Barry Lopez, who has more ways of describing snow and ice than an Eskimo, then you can do all the weather reporting you want.

Diana Athill

She states that you should CUT all the inessential words, so that every essential word can be made to count.

Margaret Atwood

She says that you should give the book to one of your friends to read it before you send it in to be published. This is because you can’t read the book with the kind of fresh anticipation someone else can. She also states that it should be someone you are not romantically involved with, unless you want to break up.

Roddy Doyle

He jokes by saying you should not place a photograph of your favourite author on your desk, especially if they committed suicide. He also says you should give a name to your novel as quickly as possible. You must own that idea and see it before you.

Helen Dunmore

Her advice is to reread, rewrite, reread, rewrite. If the story still doesn’t work you should throw it away. She says that throwing away is a nice feeling. (Ed: yeah, if you like cutting off your limbs and chucking them in the bin)

Geoff Dyer

He says that you shouldn’t worry about the commercial possibilities of a project. It’s the agent’s and editor’s job to fret over that.

Richard Ford

He gives really sound advice by saying you should marry somebody you love and who thinks being a writer is a good idea.

David Hare

David Hare gives the best advice of all, “Write only when you have something to say”.

(This is a post by our intern Kristian Meijer)

(Image by Vanwaffle (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons)

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