Bob Boone


Teacher Advice -- April, 2008

Teacher/writer Jay Amberg collects quotes from writers about writing. Here are a few John Steinbeck observations.

"A man who writes a story is forced to put into it the best of his knowledge and the best of his feeling. The discipline of the written word punishes both stupidity and dishonesty. A writer lives in awe of words for they can be cruel or kind, and they can change their meanings right in front of you. They pick-up flavors and odors like butter in a refrigerator. Of course, there are dishonest writers who go on for a little while, but not for long -- not for long."

"Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is done. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material."

"Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theatre, it doesn't exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person -- a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one."

"If you are using dialog -- say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech."

"If there is a magic in story writing, and I am convinced that there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another. The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer to convey something he feels important to the reader. If the writer has that urge, he may sometimes but by no means always find the way to do it."

"It is not so very hard to judge a story after it is written, but after many years, to start a story still scares me to death. I will go so far as to say that the writer who is not scared is happily unaware of the remote and tantalizing majesty of the medium."



Email your advice to advice@WritingTeacherHangout.com.

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