Writing Advice

Elmore Leonard

Elmore Leonard

5. Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.

6. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”

8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.

9. Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.

10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

Stephen King

Stephen King

5. You have to read widely, constantly refining (and redefining) your own work as you do so. If you don’thave time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.

6. Whether it’s a vignette of a single page or an epic trilogy, the work is always accomplished one word at a time.

10. Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well.

Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood

1. Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can’t sharpen it on the plane, because you can’t take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils.

2. If both pencils break, you can do a rough sharpening job with a nail file of the metal or glass type.

3. Take something to write on. Paper is good. In a pinch, pieces of wood or your arm will do.

Anne Enright

1. The first 12 years are the worst.

Anne Enright

10. Remember, if you sit at your desk for 15 or 20 years, every day, not ­counting weekends, it changes you. It just does. It may not improve your temper, but it fixes something else. It makes you more free.



Hilary Mantel

1. Get an accountant.

Hilary Mantel

2. Read Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande. Then do what it says, including the tasks you think are impossible.








And, Mark Twain

Mark Twain

1. Use the right word, not its second cousin.

2. Substitute damn every time you’re inclined to write very; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.

3. As to the Adjective: when in doubt, strike it out.

4. You need not expect to get your book right the first time. Go to work and revamp or rewrite it.

5. Take a turn around the block & let the sentiment blow off you. There is one thing I can’t stand and won’t stand, from many people. That is, sham sentimentality

6. Use good grammar.

7. Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.

8. Use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. Don’t let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in.

9. The time to begin writing is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is that you really want to say.

10. Write without pay until somebody offers pay.