Archive for April, 2004

Turow on the job of a writer

“The trial lawyer’s job and the novelist’s . . . involve the reconstruction of experience, usually through many voices, whether they are witnesses or characters.” –Scott Turow

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Alcott on the writing life

“Every few weeks she would shut herself up in her room, put on her scribbling suit, and ‘fall into a vortex,’ as she expressed it, writing at her novel with all her heart and soul, for till that was finished she could find no peace.” –Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

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Wiesel on why writers write

“Writers write because they cannot allow the characters that inhabit theym to suffocate them.” –Elie Wiesel

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Crichton on the ideal editor

“In my experience of writing, you generally start out with some overall idea that you can see fairly clearly, as if you were standing on a dock and looking at a ship on the ocean. At first you can see the entire ship, but then as you begin work you’re in the boiler room and […]

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Stunk and White on revising

“Revising is part of writing. Few writers are so expert that they can produce what they are after on the first try. . . Remember, it is no sign of weakness or defeat that your manuscript ends up in need of major surgery. This is a common experience in all writing, and among the best […]

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Carroll on dialogue

“[A]nd what is the use of a book? thought Alice, “without pictures or conversations?” –Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

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Sloane on writing a character

The character that is rendered too meticulously often fails to convince. Too little is left for the reader to contribute out of himself. General physical descriptions are usually enough; the reader will supply his own visual image and because it is his own it will be a reality for him. –William Sloane, The Craft of […]

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Tolstoy on theme

A work cannot be a success unless one loves its governing idea. –Leo Tolstoy, qtd. in Henri Troyat’s Tolstoy

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Nabokov on the writer and the work

[I]n a first-rate work of fiction the real clash is not between the characters but between the author and the world. –Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory

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Wouk on narrative force

I realized that for all its sweep of history, the true narrative force of (War and Peace was) is who gets Natasha. –Herman Wouk, Washington Post (May 16, 1995)

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