Advice to Writers : A Compendium of Quotes, Anecdotes, and Writerly Wisdom from a Dazzling Array of Literary Lights
In Advice to Writers, Jon Winokur, author of the bestselling The Portable Curmudgeon, gathers the counsel of more than four hundred celebrated authors in a treasury on the world of writing. Here are literary lions on everything from the passive voice to promotion and publicity: James Baldwin on the practiced illusion of effortless prose, Isaac Asimov on the despotic tendencies of editors, John Cheever on the perils of drink, Ivan Turgenev on matrimony and the Muse. Here, too, are the secrets behind the sleight-of-hand practiced by artists from Aristotle to Rita Mae Brown. Sagacious, inspiring, and entertaining, Advice to Writers is an essential volume for the writer in every reader.From the Trade Paperback edition.
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May 09, 2000
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Excerpt from Advice to Writers by Jon Winokur
On agents: "Choose your agent as carefully as you would choose your accountant or lawyer. Or dentist." -- Russell Banks
On characters: "The characters have their own lives and their own logic, and you have to act accordingly." -- Isaac Bashevis Singer
On colleagues: "Artists never thrive in colonies. Ants do. What the budding artist needs is the privilege of wrestling with his problems in solitude -- and now and the a piece of red meat." -- Henry Miller
On critics and criticism: "It is advantageous to an author that his book should be attacked as well as praised. Fame is a shuttlecock. If it be struck at only one end of the room, it will soon fall to the ground. To keep it up, it must be struck at both ends." -- Samuel Johnson
On dialogue: "Dialogue in fiction should be reserved for the culminating moments and regarded as the spray into which the great wave of narrative breaks in curving toward the watcher on the shore." -- Edith Wharton
On discouragement: "Writing is easy. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein." -- Red Smith
On drink: "First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you." -- F. Scott Fitzgerald
On editors and editing: "Bow down before them. They know what they are doing." -- Quentin Crisp
On grammar and usage: "Usage is the only test. I prefer a phrase that is easy and unaffected to a phrase that is grammatical." -- W. Somerset Maugham