Quote for writers – on characters, style and plots


I’ll tell you how it is for me, then I’ll shut up and let far more prodigious, established writers say it more eloquently.

My style, such as it is, is down to earth, as rambling as this is now. Yes, I know, I need to work on that, but it’s still my style, I used to play a lot of on-line games and after a while, if I started a new character folk would say, “That you, Ack?” … “Thought so”.
If you are true to yourself as a writer, you can’t hide who you are. The words you choose, the way you structure your sentences, the feeling you put into every clause are your signature. An authors style is unique to them in the same way a new track overheard on the radio or as movie ending is instantly recognised by the musicians or singers fans. Making a point, at least as far as musicians, is this quote:

Watched Underworld,heard this song (Made of Stone), recognised Amy Lee straight away and searched youtube!! Loving her new stuff! XxRois92xX

Plots? Do you start with the characters? The End? The Beginning? Or just start and see what comes? When I write, just like this post, after spending a lot of time researching, I finally stop procrastinating and hammer it out. For books though I see it all, in a moment. It’s like a an old film you see on television and remember years later, you know you watched it, you remember this part or that, maybe a line or an actor stands out, but the only way you can get it out your head is to find a copy. Currently at that stage now and it’s driving me nuts because there’s a tonne of research I need to do first and the book doesn’t want to wait.

It’s not the book as much as the characters, the people in the story. Not giving away anything, but there’s gaps in my skills and they are doing things I don’t understand, I guess they are trying to teach me, which is an interesting concept, but at present they are looping and doing things with their back to me, talking to me with a mouth full of food. Terribly rude of them actually. But that’s how it goes. Not something you drivel on about in a novel but on any given day I say tell you what they are wearing, eating, doing. So, yer, at the ‘real’ stage and waiting for me. I need to understand it so when I write you won’t have to. Ho hum.

Style and originality

“Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader. Not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.”
~ E.L. Doctorow

“Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.”
~ Mark Twain

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining, show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
~ Anton Chekov

“Fantasy doesn’t have to be fantastic. American writers in particular find this much harder to grasp. You need to have your feet on the ground as much as your head in the clouds. The cute dragon that sits on your shoulder also craps all down your back, but this makes it more interesting because it gives it an added dimension.”
~ Terry Pratchett

“Don’t write so that you can be understood, write so that you can’t be misunderstood.”
~ William Howard Taft

“To write well, express yourself like the common people, but think like a wise man.”
~ Aristotle

“Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe, shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish.”
~ John Jakes

“Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the ‘creative bug’ is just a wee voice telling you, ‘I’d like my crayons back, please.’ ”
~ Hugh MacLeod

“Every writer has to find their own way into writing.”
~ Margaret Mahy

“I write lustily and humorously. It isn’t calculated; it’s the way I think. I’ve invented a writing style that expresses who I am.”
~ Erica Jong

“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.”
~ Gustave Flaubert

“One should be able to return to the first sentence of a novel and find the resonances of the entire work.”
~ Gloria Naylor

“All the elements of good writing depend on the writer’s skill in choosing one word instead of another.”
~ Francine Prose

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”
~ Stephen King

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately no-one knows what they are.”
~ Somerset Maugham

“The most original authors are not so because they advance what is new, but because they put what they have to say as if it had never been said before.”
~ Goethe

“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

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

“There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.”
~ Doris Lessing

“The best stories don’t come from “good vs. bad” but “good vs. good.”
~ Leo Tolstoy

“Write what you care about and understand. Writers should never try to outguess the marketplace in search of a salable idea; the simple truth is that all good books will eventually find a publisher if the writer tries hard enough, and a central secret to writing a good book is to write one that people like you will enjoy.”
~ Richard North Patterson

“I write as straight as I can, just as I walk as straight as I can, because that is the best way to get there.”
~ H.G. Wells

“Everything that is written merely to please the author is worthless.”
~ Blaise Pascal

“Originality does not consist in saying what no one has ever said before, but in saying exactly what you think yourself.”
~ James F. Stephan


“Find out what your hero or heroine wants, and when he or she wakes up in the morning, just follow him or her all day.”
~ Ray Bradbury

“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people, not characters. A character is a caricature.”
~ Ernest Hemingway

“When characters are really alive, before their author, the latter does nothing but follow them in their action.”
~ Luigi Pirandello

“Which of us has not felt that the character we are reading in the printed page is more real than the person standing beside us?”
~ Cornelia Funke

“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of.”
~ Joss Whedon

“Cram your head with characters and stories. Abuse your library privileges. Never stop looking at the world, and never stop reading to find out what sense other people have made of it. If people give you a hard time and tell you to get your nose out of a book, tell them you’re working. Tell them it’s research. Tell them to pipe down and leave you alone.”
~ Jennifer Weiner

“When I used to teach creative writing, I would tell the students to make their characters want something right away even if it’s only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time.”
~ Kurt Vonnegut

“After a while, the characters I’m writing begin to feel real to me. That’s when I know I’m heading in the right direction.”
~ Alice Hoffman

“I never started from ideas but always from character.”
~ Ivan Turgenev

“…I discovered that if I trusted my subconscious, or imagination, whatever you want to call it, and if I made the characters as real and honest as I could, then no matter how complex the pattern being woven, my subconscious would find ways to tie it together — often doing things far more complicated and sophisticated than I could with brute conscious effort. I would have ideas for ‘nodes’, as I think of them — story or character details that have lots of potential connections to other such nodes — and even though I didn’t quite understand, I would plunk them in. Two hundred pages later, everything would back-fit, and I’d say, “Ah, that’s why I wrote that.” ”
~ Tad Williams

“In writing a series of stories about the same characters, plan the whole series in advance in some detail, to avoid contradictions and inconsistencies.”
~ L. Sprague de Camp

“Make everybody fall out of the plane first, and then explain who they were and why they were in the plane to begin with.”
~ Nancy Ann Dibble

“A good novel tells us the truth about its hero, but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.”
~ G.K. Chesterton

“First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!”
~ Ray Bradbury

“The real story is not the plot, but how the characters unfold by it.”
~ Vanna Bonta


“People ask me when I start one of these projects, what is your theme? I haven’t the faintest idea. That’s why you’re writing the book, it seems to me, to find out. To me, it’s a journey. It’s an adventure. It’s traveling in a country you’ve never been in and everything is going to be new, and because of that, vivid. And don’t make up your mind too soon. Let it be an experience.”
~ David McCullough

“Never save anything for your next book, because that possible creation may not be properly shaped to hold the thoughts you’re working with today. In fiction especially, anything that could happen, should happen.”
~ Tam Mossman

“I like to be surprised. Fresh implications and plot twists erupt as a story unfolds. Characters develop backgrounds, adding depth and feeling. Writing feels like exploring.”
~ David Brin

“Begin every story in the middle. The reader doesn’t care how it begins, he wants to get on with it.”
~ Louis l’Amour

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