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Eight Writing Tips from Eight Different Writers

Eight Writing Tips from Eight Different Writers

Over the last week, I saw a couple of authors share tips for writing and for whatever reason, they each chose eight as their number. I know there are others who go with more or less, some of which I’ve even highlighted on this blog (Elmore LeonardDave FarlandHeinlein.) I wondered if this was a thing, so I did a little Googling. I found quite a few sets so I figured it’d be fun to gather them up and share them here.

A note before we begin: take everything with a grain of salt. Glean what you can; ignore what doesn’t resonate. What works for one author doesn’t always work for someone else. There is no right path to writing. Be willing to try anything, and figure out your process along the way. It’s easy to get frustrated, but learn to enjoy the discovery, uncovering how you work is part of the fun. So, that said, let’s jump in!


Jeff VanderMeer8 Writing Tips from Jeff VanderMeer

I really appreciate the candid nature of this advice. Unlike others, VanderMeer comes at writing from a very practical standpoint. It’s refreshing.

My Favorite: “Good habits create the conditions for your imagination to thrive.”


Kurt VonnegutKurt Vonnegut’s 8 Rules for Writing

If there were a “big eight,” it’d probably be these eight. (I’d theorize that it was Vonnegut who set the precedent.) He doesn’t hold back, and his “rules” clearly serve as guidelines for his razor-sharp prose.

My Favorite: “Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.”


Flannery O'ConnorFlannery O’Connor’s 8 Writing Tips

This set wasn’t assembled by O’Connor but rather gleaned from her work. However, it’s a fascinating insight into the way she worked and why her stories still resonate.

My Favorite: “I suppose I am not very severe criticizing other people’s manuscripts for several reasons, but first being that I don’t concern myself overly with meaning. This may be odd as I certainly believe a story has to have meaning, but the meaning in a story can’t be paraphrased and if it’s there it’s there, almost more as a physical than an intellectual fact.”


John GrishamJohn Grisham’s 8 Do’s & Don’ts

There is a bit of an my-way-or-the-highway style to these “Do’s and Don’ts,” but there are some good approaches within them as well. And one cannot argue with Grisham’s results, but as always do what works for you—write to serve the story.

My Favorite: “Don’t — Keep A Thesaurus Within Reaching Distance”


Neil GaimanNeil Gaiman’s 8 Rules of Writing

Gaiman’s rules are as varied and profound as his own work. But they also come from a place of kindness and empathy. Very much worth a read.

My Favorite: “Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”


J.K. RowlingJ.K. Rowling’s 8 Rules of Writing

This collection was gleaned from Rowling’s various quotes, and she offers some good advice for those struggling through the difficulties of creation.

My Favorite: “I always advise children who ask me for tips on being a writer to read as much as they possibly can. Jane Austen gave a young friend the same advice, so I’m in good company there.”

But wait… even after you read those rules, I should stress that Rowling didn’t assemble these herself. Like O’Connor above, someone else gathered them from various quotes of hers. However, unlike O’Connor, Rowling was able to hit up Twitter and explain her approach.

While the post is absolutely a collection of things she said, they aren’t hard and fast “rules”—think of them as tips or approaches. As I mentioned above, there are no rules specific to everyone and Rowling would agree. You can read more of her thoughts on writing (pulled from Twitter), right over here.


Charlie Jane Anders

Charlie Jane Anders’ 8 Unstoppable Rules For Writing Killer Short Stories

Personally, I’ve never been interested in writing short stories. But they are a staple of science fiction and fantasy. These eight little rules are a wonderful approach and would be effective for any fiction long or short.

My Favorite: “Fuck your characters up. A little.”


C.S. Lewis8 Writing Tips from C. S. Lewis

Lewis’s tips are very similar to most modern writing advice. Just replace the “radio” with “internet” and magazines with the “internet.” Basically, replace the internet with books, people! Get rid of the internet!

My Favorite: “Read good books and avoid most magazines.”


So that’s it! Perhaps yo—

Wait, though… if the J. K. Rowling’s “rules” weren’t really hers, right?  I mean she said them, sure, but they weren’t her rules per say. (The same argument could be made for O’Conner and Lewis, but they’re not around to tell us any different.) That means I owe you someone else! So, here’s eight different rules from eight different authors—they also happened to have won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Nobel Winners8 Writing Tips from Authors Who Won the Nobel Prize for Literature

As you’d expect, there’s a ton of good advice on this list. One thing I’ve noticed as you read more and more of these is that the tips and rules seem to the echo the others—almost as if each set is constructed of similar material but reflected by an inner mirror within each writer.

My Favorite: Alice Munroe’s “Work stories out in your head when you can’t write.”


So, there are eight writing tips from eight different writers writing tips from sixteen different writers! A lot of good stuff, and plenty of interesting strategies. Hopefully, you find something that works for you. I listed my favorites, but I am sure you have your own as well. What stood out to you? Anything you disagree with? Do you have your own list of eight? Leave a comment and let me know!

💀✍ 💀


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Friday Link Pack 12/11/2015

Friday Link Pack 12/11/15

It’s Friday! That means it’s time for the Friday Link Pack, my weekly post covering topics such as writing, art, current events, and random weirdness. Some of these links I mentioned on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! If you missed the post, please be aware, the Friday Link Pack is being sunsetted at the end of this year.

All right, business done, let’s get to it.


WRITING:

The Importance Of Jumping The Shark As Early As Possible
Charlie Jane Anders, the author of the forthcoming All the Birds in the Sky, discusses how jumping the shark as early as possible will help establish the weirdness in your worlds without having to alienate your audience from stranger things to come.

Dealing With The Protagonist Who Won’t Talk to You And The Character Who Refuses To Be Cut
We have all been there, we’re ready to write, but we’re struggling with a particular character. Something about them gnaws at us, making them tough to write. What do you do? In this post, Lauren Sapala offers advice about dealing with problem characters head on and how you can overcome those blocks.

‘Based On A True Story’: The Fine Line Between Fact And Fiction
What happens when the lines between fiction and nonfiction begin to blur? Geoff Dyer and others explore this idea in this fantastic piece for the Guardian.

Our (Bare) Shelves, Our Selves
While the accessibility of streaming media is incredibly handy, is there a case for having shelf after shelf of books for children to peruse? Teddy Wayne makes the case in this article for the New York Times.


ART:

Get Ready To Appreciate The Fantasy Art of Frank Frazetta on a Whole New Level! [NSFW]
In the sixties and seventies, it was Frazetta who defined the look of Conan the Barbarian and much of the swords and sorcery era. Recently a cache of early Frazetta’s sketches, drawings, and watercolor paintings went up for auction, and we can appreciate his skill on a whole new level. [Thanks to Steve for sharing this with me.]

An Octopus Typewriter by Courtney Brown
For her piece for this years California Sculpture SLAM, Oakland artist Courtney Brown brought out Self Organization a 1938 Underwood typewriter that has seemingly come alive. Make sure to check out the creation process on Brown’s site as well.

Perfect Faces And Bodies Evanescing Into Rough Pastel Brushstrokes
Painter Meredith Marsone’s juxtaposition of the delicate and beautiful with the chaotic and raw create pieces that are both intimate and yet melancholy. Beautiful work.


RANDOM:

The 2015 Lovecraft-Inspired Gift Guide
Just like last year, I put together a handy little gift guide for the Lovecraft fan in your life. I cover everything from books to music to apparel and games. Lots of neat stuff.

Yule Log 2.015
The tradition of the Yule Log is a strange one, but sitting around a comfy fire and telling stories is something I can get behind. Yule Log 2.015 is a collection of short films created by various artists that hope to bring the Yule Log tradition into the digital age. It’s fun stuff. What’s your favorite?

Where’s Me a Dog? Here’s You a Dog: the South’s Most Unusual Regionalism
Language is a fluid thing it shifts and changes Across countries, within states, even among cities. Atlas Obscura delves into the strange world of grammatical variations throughout America centered around one strange turn of phrase.

Ghost Streets Of Los Angeles
BLDBLOG takes a look at streets of Los Angeles that have long since disappeared but who’s scars have remained. A cool look on the evolution of a modern city.


WEIRD WIKIPEDIA:

Aokigahara
“Aokigahara, also known as the Suicide Forest or Sea of Trees, is a 35-square-kilometre (14 sq mi) forest that lies at the northwest base of Mount Fuji in Japan. The forest contains a number of rocky, icy caverns, a few of which are popular tourist destinations. Aokigahara forest is dense, shutting out all but the natural sounds of the forest itself.

The forest has a historic association with demons in Japanese mythology, and it is a notoriously common suicide site (in which 57 took place in 2010). For this reason, a sign at the head of the main trail urges suicidal visitors to think of their families and contact a suicide prevention association.”


H.P. LOVECRAFT STORY OF THE WEEK:

The Man of Stone
A trip to visit strange lifelike statuary deep in the Catskill Mountains goes awry in this story collaboration with Hazel Heald.


GIF OF THE WEEK:World's Best Eagle.

Friday Link Pack 12/06/13

Syd Mead Blade Runner Concept Art
Syd Mead Blade Runner Concept Art

It’s time to share a few interesting links I have found throughout the week. Some of these I mention on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Have any suggestions, let me know.

Writing:

12 Real Life Inventions That Science Fiction is Neglecting at its Peril
One of my favorite bloggers, Charlie Jane Anders, compiles a list of real life inventions that has been neglected by modern science fiction. If you’re looking for some inspiration for your own project look no further. There’s a lot here.

The Stars Were Right trade paperbacks are available!
As of yesterday my book The Stars Were Right is now available as a trade paperback from Amazon! Nab it today! It makes a great gift! To celebrate I also discounted the Kindle edition to $0.99 for the rest of the week. You can’t even buy a decent cup of coffee for a buck these days.

The Stars Were Right Giveaway!
Now through January 5th you can enter to win a copy of The Stars Were Right on Goodreads. It’s as simple as following the link and clicking “Enter to Win!” Tell your friends (or don’t and give yourself a better chance at winning.)

Learning to Write
Hugh Howey offers some frank and simple advice on what it takes to write.

Art:

Syd Mead’s Bladerunner Concept Art
Some of the coolest concept art you’ll see. Ever. Really. I promise.

Wars on Kinkade
One part painter of light, one part dark side. DeviantArt artist Jeff Bennett merges Star Wars and Tomas Kinkade paintings into fantastic (and amusing) pieces.

Random:

The National x Bob’s Burgers – Sailors in Your Mouth
Two of my favorite things combine to create an amazing Thanksgiving song for the 2nd year in a row. If you missed “Thanksgiving Song” from last year make sure you listen to it as well.

Getting Lost on North Brother Island
Situated between the Bronx and Riker’s Island, New York lies a small bird sanctuary that was once the site of a hospital. After 40+ years of abandonment the result are some amazing (and creepy) pictures.

Lovecraft Story of the Week:

The Beast in the Cave
A lost man. A dark cave. A potential threat.

Farewell Gif(s) of the Week:

This is basically what dinosaurs looked like. Too bad.

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