Monday, June 23, 2008

10 Writing Tips from the Masters

from pick the brains

1. Cut the boring parts


"I try to leave out the parts that people skip."
~ Elmore Leonard

Unless you’re writing for personal reasons alone, you need to consider the
attention of your readers. There’s no point is publishing content that isn’t useful,
interesting, or both.

2. Eliminate unnecessary words

"Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very;” your editor will
delete it and the writing will be just as it should be."
~ Mark Twain

Cut words like “really”, “actually”, or “extremely”. Instead of making your writing more powerful, they only get in the way.

3. Write with passion

"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.
" ~ William Wordsworth

It’s not hard to realize that unless you’re excited about your writing no one else
will be.

4. Paint a picture

"Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass."
~ Anton Chekhov

Simply stating something is fine, but when you need to capture attention, using
similies, metaphors, and vivid imagery to paint a picture creates a powerful
emotional response.

5. Keep it simple

"Vigorous writing is concise."
~ William Strunk Jr.

Maybe it was all those late nights, struggling to fill out mandatory 10 page papers,
but many people seem to think that worthwhile writing is long and drawn out. It’s
more difficult (and effective) to express yourself in the simplest possible manner.

6. Do it for love

"Write without pay until somebody offers to pay
." ~ Mark Twain

When you’re just starting out it’s hard to decide where to begin. So don’t. Just
start writing. A blog is a good place to start. The most valuable benefit is the

7. Learn to thrive on criticism

"You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance."

~ Ray Bradbury

Writing means putting yourself at the mercy of anonymous hecklers and
shameless sycophants. Learn to make the most of the insults and distrust
the praise.

8. Write all the time

"Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you’re doomed. "
~ Ray Bradbury

The way you define yourself as a writer is that you write every time you have a free minute. If you didn’t behave that way you would never do anything.
~John Irving

9. Write what you know … or what you want to know

"If any man wish to write in a clear style, let him be first clear in his thoughts; and if any would write in a noble style, let him first possess a noble soul."
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Learn as much by writing as by reading." ~ Lord Acton

Successful writing is all about trust and authority. It makes sense to write about your area of expertise. If you don’t have an expertise, reading and writing is the best way to develop one and put it on display.

10. Be unique and unpredictable

"I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite." ~ G. K. Chesterton

"Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative." ~ Oscar Wilde

"Zest. Gusto. How rarely one hears these words used. How rarely do we
see people living, or for that matter, creating by them. Yet if I were asked
to name the most important items in a writer’s make-up, the things that
shape his material and rush him along the road to where he wants to go,
I could only warn him to look to his zest, see to his gusto.
~ Ray Bradbury

Following what works will only get you so far. Experiment with new styles, even if
it means taking criticism. Without moving forward, you’ll be left behind.

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