Writers On Style

12 Nov


Pace is crucial. Fine writing isn’t enough. Writing students can be great at producing a single page of well-crafted prose; what they sometimes lack is the ability to take the reader on a journey, with all the changes of terrain, speed and mood that a long journey involves. Sarah Waters

Get into the scene late, get out of the scene early. – David Mamet

The thing to go for is speed. Nothing puts the reader off more than a great slab of prose at the start. P.G. WODEHOUSE

“The king died and then the queen died” is a story. “The king died, and then the queen died of grief” is a plot. … Consider the death of the queen. If it is in a story we say “and then?” If it is in a plot we ask “why?” — E.M. Forster, Aspects of the Novel

‘The cat sat on the mat’ is not the beginning of a story, but ‘the cat sat on the dog’s mat’ is. – John le Carré

Any fiction should be a story. In any story there are three elements: persons, a situation, and the fact that in the end something has changed. If nothing has changed, it isn’t a story. ~ Malcolm Cowley

Short paragraphs put air around what you write and make it look inviting, whereas one long chunk of type can discourage the reader from even starting to read. ~ William  Zinsser 

Once somebody’s aware of a plot, it’s like a bone sticking out. If it breaks through the skin, it’s very ugly. – Louis Auchincloss


Fiction is a lie, and good fiction is the truth inside the lie. ~ Stephen King

What I’m trying to achieve is a voice sitting by a fireplace telling you a story on a winter’s evening. – Truman Capote

Writing well means never having to say, “I guess you had to be there.” Jef Mallett


One Response to “Writers On Style”

  1. philosophermouseofthehedge July 19, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    Just came back to get one of the quote right (had bookmarked). Some really good stuff here – glad I made the return visit. Found any new ones?

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