Sunday, October 18, 2009

newnoise1 quotes writers on writing

Writers on writing

I've done some surfing and listed the following insights on writing from 5 of the authors I selected for my 100 favorite books list.

George Orwell - 1984

"It was a bright day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen." First line from 1984

'A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself two more: Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?'

George Orwell - Politics and the English Language

Helene Hanff - 84, Charing Cross road

'Pride goeth.' First line from Apple of my eye

I’m working late in what’s left of the Guild offices when the phone rings and it’s Mrs. Helburn in New Haven. We had just mimeographed BY HAND 10,000 fliers with Away We Go. And Terry says to me, Helene, we’ve changed the title. You’ll have to rewrite the flier. The new title is…OKLAHOMA. Big deal! Back then it was the name of a state! Would you name a musical Maine or New Jersey? But we redo the fliers and hand crank out 10,000 new ones. Phone rings again…You’ll have to redo the fliers again. They want an exclamation point at the end. OKLAHOMA!

Helen Hanff - Underfoot in Show Business

Kurt Vonnegut - Slaughterhouse 5

'All this happened, more or less.' First line from Slaughterhouse 5

'My teachers wished me to write accurately, always selecting the most effective words, and relating the words to one another unambiguously, rigidly, like parts of a machine. The teachers did not want to turn me into an Englishman after all. They hoped that I would become understandable - and therefore understood. And there went my dream of doing with words what Pablo Picasso did with paint or what any number of jazz idols did with music. If I broke all the rules of punctuation, had words mean whatever I wanted them to mean, and strung them together higgledy-piggledy, I would simply not be understood.'

Kurt Vonnegut - How to Write With Style

Albert Camus - The Outsider

'Mother died today.' First line from The Outsider

'By the same token, the writer's role is not free from difficult duties. By definition he cannot put himself today in the service of those who make history; he is at the service of those who suffer it. Otherwise, he will be alone and deprived of his art. Not all the armies of tyranny with their millions of men will free him from his isolation, even and particularly if he falls into step with them. But the silence of an unknown prisoner, abandoned to humiliations at the other end of the world, is enough to draw the writer out of his exile, at least whenever, in the midst of the privileges of freedom, he manages not to forget that silence, and to transmit It in order to make it resound by means of his art.'

Albert Camus - Speech at the Nobel Banquet at the City Hall in Stockholm, December 10, 1957

Mark Twain - Huckleberry Finn

'The personages in a tale shall be alive, except in the case of corpses, and that always the reader shall be able to tell the corpses from the others.'

Twain's Rules of Writing

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