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Writing Tips From Great Writers

Written By Franklin V on Monday, July 16, 2012 | 8:15 PM

Kurt Vonnegut 



Kurt Vonnegut, Jr was a 20th-century American writer. His works such as Cat's Cradle (1963), Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), and Breakfast of Champions (1973) blend satire, gallows humor, and science fiction. As a citizen he was a lifelong supporter of the American Civil Liberties Union and a critical leftist intellectual. He was known for his humanist beliefs and was honorary president of the American Humanist Association.

Tips from his Experience
  • Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  • Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  • Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  • Every sentence must do one of two things-reveal character or advance the action.
  • Start as close to the end as possible.
  • 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.
  • Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  • Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
How to write a short story:




Henry Miller



Henry Valentine Miller (December 26, 1891 – June 7, 1980) was an American writer and painter. He was known for breaking with existing literary forms and developing a new sort of "novel" that is a mixture of novel, autobiography, social criticism, philosophical reflection, surrealist free association, and mysticism, one that is distinctly always about and expressive of the real-life Henry Miller and yet is also fictional. His most characteristic works of this kind are Tropic of Cancer (1934), Black Spring (1936), and Tropic of Capricorn (1939). He also wrote travel memoirs and essays of literary criticism and analysis. 

These are Henry Miller’s Commandment’s on writing from the time of 1932-1933 when he was working on Tropic of Cancer:

COMMANDMENTS
  1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
  2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to ‘Black Spring.’
  3. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
  4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
  5. When you can’t create you can work.
  6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
  7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
  8. Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
  9. Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. 
 Exclude.
  • Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
  • Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.
  • In combination with the commandments above, he also followed a routine and blueprint for productivity and inspiration:

John Steinbeck

 

John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr. (February 27, 1902 – December 20, 1968) was an American writer. He is widely known for the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath (1939) and East of Eden (1952) and the novella Of Mice and Men (1937). He was an author of twenty-seven books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books and five collections of short stories; Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.

Six Tips on Writing From John Steinbeck:

1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.

2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.

3. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, 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.

4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.

5. Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.

6. If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.

Although I don’t know if you should listen to his advice based on this other quote by him about disavowing all other advice and doing as your feel:

“If there is a magic in story writing, and I am convinced there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another. The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer to convey something he feels important to the reader. If the writer has that urge, he may sometimes, but by no means always, find the way to do it. You must perceive the excellence that makes a good story good or the errors that makes a bad story. For a bad story is only an ineffective story.” 

Jack Kerouac



was an American novelist and poet. He is considered a literary iconoclast and, alongside William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, a pioneer of the Beat Generation.Kerouac is recognized for his spontaneous method of writing, covering topics such as Catholic spirituality, jazz, promiscuity, Buddhism, drugs, poverty, and travel. Kerouac became an underground celebrity and, with other beats, a progenitor of the hippie movement, although he remained antagonistic toward some of its politically radical elements.In 1969, at age 47, Kerouac died from internal bleeding due to long-standing abuse of alcohol. Since his death Kerouac's literary prestige has grown and several previously unseen works have been published. All of his books are in print today, among them: On the Road, Doctor Sax, The Dharma Bums, Mexico City Blues, The Subterraneans, Desolation Angels, Visions of Cody, The Sea is My Brother, and Big Sur.

Jack Kerouac's Beliefs and Techniques for Prose and Life:
  These were apparently posted on the wall in the hotel of Allen Ginsberg a year before the poem “Howl” was written.
  1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for your own joy
  2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
  3. Something that you feel will find its own form
  4. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
  5. The unspeakable visions of the individual
  6. No time for poetry but exactly what is
  7. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
  8. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
  9. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
  10. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
  11. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
  12. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
  13. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
  14. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
  15. Don't think of words when you stop but to see picture better
  16. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in your morning
  17. No fear or shame in the dignity of your experience, language & knowledge
  18. Write for the world to read and see your exact pictures of it
  19. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
  20. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
  21. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
  22. You’re a Genius all the time
 

Various Writers 
 
Finish each day before you begin the next, and interpose a solid wall of sleep between the two. This you cannot do without temperance.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Begin with an individual and you find that you have created a type; begin with a type and you find that you have created — nothing.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald
Don’t ever write a novel unless it hurts like a hot turd coming out.” ~ Charles Bukowski
Breathe in experience, breathe out poetry.” ~ Muriel Rukeyser
A short story must have single mood and every sentence must build towards it.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe
You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” ~ Saul Bellow
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.” ~ T. S. Eliot
Fiction is a lie, and good fiction is the truth inside the lie.” ~Stephen King
Good fiction is made of what is real, and reality is difficult to come by.” ~ Ralph Ellison
The problem with fiction, it has to be plausible. That’s not true with non-fiction.” ~ Tom Wolfe
You cannot write well without data.” ~ George Higgins
Listen, then make up your own mind.” ~ Gay Talese
Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut
Write without pay until somebody offers pay; if nobody offers within three years, sawing wood is what you were intended for.” ~ Mark Twain
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