missiondoll (missiondoll) wrote,

[writers on writing]

Useful stuff I've found online.

Matt Hughes:

1. Leave out the passages that readers love to skip. (Those would be the ones you worked hardest on).

4. Never describe the physical appearance of a character with details that the reader will soon forget.

James Patrick Kelly:

"While not exactly advice per se, something that Damon Knight used to write on my manuscripts - and those of many other aspiring writers - has stuck with me to this day. He would scrawl who cares? in the margins. While on the face of it, this might seem like pure snark, I ascribed the best of intentions to my mentor whenever he inflicted this dreaded question on me. It was meant as a challenge to my assumption that the story I was telling was interesting enough to hold a reader's attention. What stake did the major characters have in the outcome of the plot? What was the significance of that outcome in the world of the story? Could the characters act to influence that outcome? Or if the who cares was applied to a specific passage, I understood that I was being invited to justify it. Was the amount of story time I was devoting to a particular description or scene commensurate with its importance to the story.
Now Damon had read more than his share of broken stories, both as an editor and as an alpha workshopper, so his boredom threshold was perhaps lower than most. But he understood all too well the capacity of writers fall blindly in love with their own purple prose, their twisty plots, their needlessly quirky characters and obscure research and ideas never before explored in print (for good reason). Writers thus blinded by their own cleverness will never see their readers yawn, peek at their watches or turn to their computers to check their email. And I never interpreted his who cares? to mean that nobody in their right minds would ever give a damn, but rather that I hadn't yet done the work necessary to make the thinking reader care. So maybe this particular bit of Damon's wisdom might be summed up this way: Writers need to consider all the things they can do to lose their readers. Then maybe they shouldn't do some of those things."

Nancy Kress:

"The best piece of writing advice I ever got came from Gene Wolfe, fairly early in my career. He said, "Have a short story feature two situations, and then let them solve each other."

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