writer’s tips

#1 – WHERE of a story.
Where the story happens needs to be tight. Atmospheric. Have its own distinct personality. Smell it, get rained on, be bitten by the fleas in the bed, fucked off at how loud Dotty Bowles’ television is in the flat next door because she’s been deaf since the war took the sounds of birds from her day. The linoleum underfoot. Be embarrassed by the piss stains on Mum’s couch. Fuck I wish we could afford shoes. My fingernails crack while I chip away at last century’s dark green paint that scab the bars of the prison cell. The breath of camels. Wet dogs. Smoke from a peat fire. Bull kelp and the stone and iron of an old wharf. Eucalypts during a thunderstorm after five stinking, sweaty, sleepless nights and brain fryingly hot late Malley days.

#2 – Hints for strong writing – great quotes from great writers:

  • When you catch an adjective, kill it – Mark Twain
  • Go easy on the adverbs – Helen Garner
  • Murder your darlings – Annie Dillard
  • Cut out the exclamation marks. An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own jokes – Scott Fitzgerald
  • Usually the recipe for a best seller is to give people what they want. My challenge is and was: Give them what they do not expect. Be severe with them. The world of media is full of easy answers, wash-and-wear philosophies, instant ecstasies, what-me-worry Epiphanes, Probably readers want a little more – Umberto Eco
  • I try to leave out the parts people skip – Elmore Leonard
  • Any writer overwhelmingly honest about pleasing himself [sic] is almost sure to please others – Marianne Moore
  • Your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one – John Steinbeck
  • When I’m writing I’m always aware that this friend is going to like this, or that another friend is going to like that paragraph or chapter, always thinking of specific people. In the end all books are written for your friends – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • To write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write – Gertrude Stein
  • Would you convey my compliments to the purist who reads your proofs and tell him or her that I wrote in a sort of broken down patois which is something like the way a Swiss waiter talks, and that when I split an infinitive, god dammit, I split it so it will stay split – Raymond Chandler
  • I believe more in the scissors than in the pencil – Truman Capote
  • The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in shock-proof shit-detector – Ernest Hemingway
  • I hate writing. I will do anything to avoid it. The only way I could write less is if I was dead – Fran Lebowitz
  • Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice studies the master, Read! You will absorb it. Then write. If it’s good you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window – William Faulkner
  • A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people – Thomas Mann
  • One of the dumbest things you were ever taught was to write about what you know. Because what you know is usually dull. Remember when you first wanted to be a writer? Eight or ten years old, reading about thin-lipped heroes flying over mysterious viny jungles towards untold wonders? That’s what you wanted to write about. What you didn’t know – Ken Kesey
  • The faster I write the better my output. If I’m going slow I’m in trouble. It means I’m puschinjhg the words instead of being pulled by them – Raymond Chandler

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