Writing • Editing • Solutions

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How to Write: Advice from the Greats

I love this BuzzFeed roundup of quotes from the Writing Greats. Each nugget bursts with inspiration, truth, and practical advice.

How many writing students have been urged to “show, don’t tell.” Well, short-story writer Anton Checkov showed, not told, just how to do that: “Don’t tell me the moon is shining,” he said. “Show me the glint of light on broken glass.” Lovely example!

One of my favorite authors, Mark Twain, suggested substituting “damn” for the word “very.” Then, he said, “Your writing will be just as it should be.” That’s very damn good advice.

When I once groused about cutting copy from an article to make room for an ad, my editor wisely advised that the kindest thing an editor could do for a writer is cut a 2000-word article down to 1,000 words. In this piece, George Orwell offers specific directions for clarifying and tightening flabby prose: Lose the clichés, long words, foreign words, extra words.

I think my favorite quote, though, is novelist and screenwriter Elmore Leonard’s advice: Leave out the parts that people skip.

Which quote do you like best?

Write on —

by Maryann Hammers — your solution for all writing and editing needs

4 comments on “How to Write: Advice from the Greats

  1. LCSterling
    August 17, 2012

    They’re all good … but Twain is always the funniest.

  2. Tyler Lehmann
    December 21, 2012

    Fantastic link. So much inspiration all in one place.

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