Arkangel Shakespeare, a multimillion dollar production five years in the making using 350+ actors.  Eventually the copyright for this project will be released — in the meantime check public libraries.

Unorthodox Research Methods:

  • YouTube is invaluable for idiomatic dialogue, gleaning unique terminology from farmers to astronauts…also useful for finding musical instruments, songs, etc., from the region/language/time period about which you are writing. (Can’t go wrong starting with the Martin DX1 AE.)
  • Open Mics: work from a laptop or kindle in a bar with a free open mic night at a college near you to stay in touch with coming generations. Who knows, after half a decade you might pick up a guitar to write songs for your scripts too.
  • Google “quotes [your subject/theme]” and “proverbs [your setting/time period/demo]” likewise for idioms, how to, etc…such as “quotes sailing” or “Saudi proverbs” or “Korean idioms
  • Use /r/AskHistorians or /r/futurology or /r/_____ [region, demo, occupation, etc]
  • Attend conferences (such as the Mars Society‘s or the World Cancer Congress)
  • Go to locations in which your story is set and write there: judicial courts, religious institutions, hospitals, AL-ANON meetings…
  • Read poetry of the region, occupation, ethnicity of your characters…glean unique terms, single words…not to rewrite their poetry in your script, but to find genuinely beautiful perspectives and terminology to capture something more ephemeral (off-the-nose) of your subject’s indigenous atmosphere…
  • Likewise comedy: google “[ethnicity/country/subject] comedian”…say if you are writing a script set in Russia…? Google “Russian comedian” – there’ll be youtube videos of Russian comedians speaking in English ; )
  • Search for torrents of The Great Courses (or The Teaching Company TTC) etc for indepth lectures on your subject.
  • Ask friends: “do you know anyone who went to jail?” “from this country?” “a police officer?” “an addict?” – be honest and sincere “I’m writing a story, I need a character who…” then listen and use a voice recorder on your smart phone to transcribe their actual conversation…capture their voice, it will be totally different from even what you think may be word-for-word notes transcribed during the conversation…record them.
  • https://images.google.com amazing what painters, photographers, cartoonists, and illustrators have thought about your theme.
  • Create Twitter lists specifically for your themes and characters to glean idioms, ideas., etc., from contemporary real-llife characters…
  • Create a browser favorites folder for bookmarks useful to writing your theme or characters’ voices…bookmark youtube channels, twitter feeds., blogs., etc., by real-life persons similar to your characters.
  • Multi-task while listening to podcasts on your theme by real-life characters.
  • Google for a core vocabulary list of the languages used in your settings – if in a foreign country, time period, etc…these are only 500 – 1,000 common “sight words” necessary for fluency…a series drama (such as ‘Marco Polo’) could easily incorporate the entire core list of Italian and Mandarin each season, through off-hand comments, quick replies, casual remarks, etc., accompanied by body gestures and facial expressions to encourage the audience to “feel” the foreign language as a native. Over time as humanity becomes more intelligent in the coming decades we will able to “learn” Latin, Sanskrit, Attic Greek, Hebrew, Mandarin, etc., through immersive entertainment……would be nice to live among geniuses.
  • Compile in Evernote…research will lead to more projects, more writing…”the more you write, the more you’ll want to write”.
  • Remember, Reality is weird, super strange…if your world and characters are as gritty and idiomatic and genuine as Reality, with experiences and expressions tangential at moments to your main storyline, your audience will buy into nearly any twists as Real Life.
  • Read prayer books at hospitals : ) best writing ever ever ever, gorgeous …the Nobel Committee should give a prize to hospital prayer rooms! 

Kurt Vonegut:
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  1. Every sentence of your story must reveal character or advance action
  2. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  3. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  4. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  5. Every sentence must do one of two things-reveal character or advance action.
  6. Start as close to the end as possible.
  7. Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them-in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  8. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  9. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

David Ogilvy:
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  1. Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times.
  2. Write the way you talk. Naturally.
  3. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.
  4. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification,attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.
  5. Never write more than two pages on any subject.
  6. Check your quotations.
  7. Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning — and then edit it.
  8. If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.
  9. Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.
  10. If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.

The better you write, the higher you go in Ogilvy & Mather. People who think well, write well. Woolly minded people write woolly memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches. Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well.

Henry Miller:
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  1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
  2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to ‘Black Spring.’
  3. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
  4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
  5. When you can’t create you can work.
  6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
  7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
  8. Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
  9. Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back. Concentrate. Narrow. Exclude.
  10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
  11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.

MORNINGS: If groggy, type notes and allocate, as stimulus. If in fine fettle, write.

AFTERNOONS: Work of section in hand, following plan of section scrupulously. No intrusions, no diversions. Write to finish one section at a time, for good and all.

EVENINGS: See friends. Read in cafés.Explore unfamiliar sections — on foot if wet, on bicycle if dry.Write, if in mood, but only on Minor program.Paint if empty or tired.Make Notes. Make Charts, Plans. Make corrections of MS.

Note: Allow sufficient time during daylight to make an occasional visit to museums or an occasional sketch or an occasional bike ride. Sketch in cafés and trains and streets. Cut the movies! Library for references once a week.

John Steinbeck:
imagesIf there is a magic in story writing, and I am convinced 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. You must perceive the excellence that makes a good story good or the errors that makes a bad story. For a bad story is only an ineffective story.

  1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.
  2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. 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.
  3. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, 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.
  4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.
  5. Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.
  6. If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.

Emma Coats:
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  1. You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
  2. You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.
  3. Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
  4. Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
  5. Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
  6. What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
  7. Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
  8. Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
  9. When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
  10. Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
  11. Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
  12. Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
  13. Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
  14. Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.
  15. If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
  16. What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
  17. No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.
  18. You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
  19. Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
  20. Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?
  21. You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?
  22. What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

Anne Lamott:
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Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”

We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason why they write so little. But we do. We have so much we want to say and figure out.

You begin to string words together like beads to tell a story. You are desperate to communicate, to edify or entertain, to preserve moments of grace or joy or transcendence, to make real or imagined events come alive. But you cannot will this to happen. It is a matter of persistence and faith and hard work. So you might as well just go ahead and get started.

Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.

Mark Twain:
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  1. Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.
  2. Use the right word, not its second cousin.
  3. As to the Adjective: when in doubt, strike it out.
  4. You need not expect to get your book right the first time. Go to work and revamp or rewrite it. God only exhibits his thunder and lightning at intervals, and so they always command attention. These are God’s adjectives. You thunder and lightning too much; the reader ceases to get under the bed, by and by.
  5. 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.
  6. Use good grammar.
  7. Damnation (if you will allow the expression), get up & take a turn around the block & let the sentiment blow off you. Sentiment is for girls. . . . There is one thing I can’t stand and won’t stand, from many people. That is, sham sentimentality.
  8. Use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English–it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don’t let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in.
  9. The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is that you really want to say.
  10. Write without pay until somebody offers pay. If nobody offers within three years, the candidate may look upon this circumstance with the most implicit confidence as the sign that sawing wood is what he was intended for.

George Orwell:
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  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, scientific word, or jargon word if you can use everyday equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

J.K. Rowling:

220px-J._K._Rowling_2010Tip 1: Don’t rush to roll out your product:

“Destiny is a name often given in retrospect to choices that had dramatic consequences.” Although Rowling had been a writer all her life, she was slow to publish. She said, “I had written two novels before I had the idea for Harry, though I’d never tried to get them published (and a good job too, I don’t think they were very good).”

Tip 2: When a great idea grabs you, grab back:

“You sort of start thinking anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.” Great ideas are unmistakably powerful in their announcement and come when least expected. Rowling says: “Where the idea for Harry Potter actually came from, I really couldn’t tell you. I was traveling on a train between Manchester and London and it just popped into my head. I spent four hours thinking about what Hogwarts would be like. By the time I got off at King’s Cross, many of the characters in the books had already been invented.”

Tip 3: Persevere, persevere and persevere:

“It is our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” Rowling moved to Portugal to teach English as a Second Language in 1991 and married her first husband the following year. They divorced in 1993. The next year, she moved to Scotland. At this point, she was an unemployed single mother living on welfare. In 1995, she completed her manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, typing it out on an old manual typewriter. She handed in the book to twelve publishing houses. They all rejected it.”

Tip 4: Don’t let anyone sidetrack you from your goal:

“If you’re holding out for universal popularity, I’m afraid you will be in this cabin for a very long time.” Her editor, though, says that he “advised Rowling to get a day job, since she had little chance of making money in children’s books.” It’s a good thing she didn’t let this advice discourage her—all seven volumes of the Harry Potter series have broken sales records. What a shining role model Rowling is for small business owners. She didn’t let anyone stand in the way of her goal—not even herself.”

Tip 5: Each of us has a unique contribution to make to the world:

“I just write what I wanted to write. I write what amuses me. It’s totally for myself. I just wrote the sort of thing I liked reading when I was younger (and still enjoy now!). I didn’t expect lots of people to like them, in fact, I never really thought much past getting them published.”

Margaret Atwood:

  1. Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can’t sharpen it on the plane, because you can’t take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils.
  2. If both pencils break, you can do a rough sharpening job with a nail file of the metal or glass type.
  3. Take something to write on. Paper is good. In a pinch, pieces of wood or your arm will do.
  4. If you’re using a computer, always safeguard new text with a memory stick.
  5. Do back exercises. Pain is distracting.
  6. Hold the reader’s attention. (This is likely to work better if you can hold your own.) But you don’t know who the reader is, so it’s like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark. What fascinates A will bore the pants off B.
  7. You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there’s no free lunch. Writing is work. It’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but essentially you’re on your own. Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine.
  8. You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You’ve been backstage. You’ve seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a romantic relationship, unless you want to break up.
  9. Don’t sit down in the middle of the woods. If you’re lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page.
  10. Prayer might work. Or reading something else. Or a constant visualisation of the holy grail that is the finished, published version of your resplendent book.

William Goldman:

  1. Thou shalt not take the crisis out of the protagonist’s hands.
  2. Thou shalt not make life easy for the protagonist.
  3. Thou shalt not give exposition for exposition’s sake.
  4. Thou shalt not use false mystery or cheap surprise.
  5. Thou shalt respect thy audience.
  6. Thou shalt know thy world as God knows this one.
  7. Thou shalt not complicate when complexity is better.
  8. Thou shalt seek the end of the line, taking characters to the farthest depth of the conflict imaginable within the story’s own realm of probability.
  9. Thou shalt not write on the nose – put a subtext under every text.
  10. Thou shalt rewrite.

Ann Patchett:

  1. People like to ask me if writing can be taught, and I say yes. I can teach you how to write a better sentence, how to write dialogue, maybe even how to construct a plot. But I can’t teach you how to have something to say.
  2. Ideas are everywhere. Lift up a big rock and look under it, stare into a window of a house you drive past and dream about what’s going on inside. Read the newspaper, ask your father about his sister, think of something that happened to you or someone you know and then think about it turning out an entirely different way.
  3. If you want to write and can’t figure out how to do it, try this: Pick an amount of time to sit at your desk every day. Start with twenty minutes, say, and work up as quickly as possible to as much time as you can spare. Do you really want to write? Sit for two hours a day.
  4. Based on my own experience, I believe the brain is as soft and malleable as bread dough when we’re young. I am grateful for every class trip to the symphony I went on and curse any night I was allowed to watch The Brady Bunch, because all of it stuck….Think about this before you let your child have a Game Boy.
  5. If you want to study the master of the well-constructed chapter—and plot and flat-out gorgeous writing—read Raymond Chandler. The Long Goodbye is my favorite.
  6. Many writers feel that plot is passé; they’re so over plot—who needs plot?—to which I say, learn how to construct one first and then feel free to reject it.
  7. Even if you’re writing a book that jumps around in time, has ten points of view, and is chest-deep in flashbacks, do your best to write it in the order in which it will be read, because it will make the writing, and the later editing, incalculably easier.
  8. One method of revision that I find both loathsome and indispensable is reading my work aloud when I’m finished. There are things I can hear—the repetition of words, a particularly flat sentence—that I don’t otherwise catch.
  9. I got better at closing the gap between my hand and my head by clocking in the hours, stacking up the pages. Somewhere in all my years of practice—I don’t know where exactly—I arrived at the art.
  10. No one should go into debt to study creative writing. It’s simply not worth it. Do not think of it as an investment in yourself that you’ll be able to recoup later on. This is not medical school.

William Safire:
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  1. Remember to never split an infinitive.
  2. The passive voice should never be used.
  3. Do not put statements in the negative form.
  4. Verbs have to agree with their subjects.
  5. Proofread carefully to see if you words out.
  6. If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be by rereading and editing.
  7. A writer must not shift your point of view.
  8. And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction. (Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with.)
  9. Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!
  10. Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
  11. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
  12. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
  13. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
  14. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
  15. Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
  16. Always pick on the correct idiom.
  17. The adverb always follows the verb.
  18. Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; seek viable alternatives.

Neil Gaiman: (read his free short stories here)
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  1. Write.
  2. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.
  3. Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.
  4. Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.
  5. Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.
  6. Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.
  7. Laugh at your own jokes.
  8. The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.

Zadie Smith:

  1. When still a child, make sure you read a lot of books. Spend more time doing this than anything else.
  2. When an adult, try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would.
  3. Don’t romanticize your ‘vocation’. You can either write good sentences or you can’t. There is no ‘writer’s lifestyle”. All that matters is what you leave on the page.
  4. Avoid your weaknesses. But do this without telling yourself that the things you can’t do aren’t worth dooing. Don’t mask self-doubt with contempt.
  5. Leave a decent space of time between writing something and editing it.
  6. Avoid cliques, gangs, groups. The presence of a crowd won’t make your writing better than it is.
  7. Work on a computer that is disconnected from the internet.
  8. Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.
  9. Don’t confuse honors with achievement.
  10. Tell the truth through which veil comes to hand – but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never being satisfied.

Elmore Leonard:
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  1. Never open a book with the weather.
  2. Avoid prologues.
  3. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
  4. Keep your exclamation points under control!
  5. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”
  6. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
  7. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
  8. Same for places and things.
  9. Leave out the parts readers tend to skip.

Stephen King:
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  1. Get to the point. Don’t waste your reader’s time with too much back-story, long intros or longer anecdotes about your life. Reduce the noise. Reduce the babbling. In On Writing King gets to his points quickly. Get to your point quickly too before your reader loses patience and moves on.
  2. Write a draft. Then let it rest. King recommends that you crank out a first draft and then put it in your drawer to let it rest. Now, how long you let your text rest may vary. King puts his manuscripts away for several months before rereading and start the editing process. I often let a post rest for a day or two before I start editing (as I’m sure many other bloggers do from time to time too). This enables you to get out of the mindset you had when you wrote the draft and get a more detached and clear perspective on the text. It then becomes easier to edit, add and cut in a sometimes kinda ruthless way. The result is most often a better text.
  3. Cut down your text. When you revisit your text it’s time to kill your darlings and remove all the superfluous words and sentences. Removing will declutter your text and often get your message through with more clarity and a bigger emotional punch. Don’t remove too much text though or you may achieve the opposite effects instead. King got the advice to cut down his texts by 10 percent from an old rejection-letter and has followed this advice for decades. While editing my blog I’ve found that 10 percent seems to be a pretty good figure not just for mammoth-sized books.
  4. Be relatable and honest. King has an honest voice in his fiction and in his memoir. He tells it like it is and makes us relate to him and his characters. Since King’s fiction often is of an odd kind with strange plots that seldom happen to normal people I think one of his strengths as a writer is being able to write relatable content anyway. One of the keys to doing that is to have an honest voice and honest characters with both bad and good sides to them. People we can relate to with all of their faults, passions, fears, weaknesses and good moments. King’s characters seem human. That creates a strong connection to the reader who starts caring about the characters. Another key to being honest and relatable is keeping a conversational style. Keeping it simple and using language that isn’t unnecessarily complicated. Using the words that first come to mind.
  5. Don’t care too much what others may think. King admits to being needy about the emotional feedback he gets when he lets his wife read a new story for the first time. He gets a kick out of hearing her laugh so she cries or just cry because something in manuscript really touched her. But he has also gotten tons of mail over the years from people who confuse his sometimes nasty characters with the writer. Or just thinks he should wind up in hell. And King hasn’t always been a favourite among literary critics either. But from what I gather he just sits down at his desk and keeps writing every morning anyway. If you listen too much to your critics you won’t get much done. Your writing will probably become worse and less fun. And criticism is often not even about you anyway.
  6. Read a lot. When you read you always pick up things. Sometimes it might be reminders about what you know you should be doing while you write. Sometimes it’s some cool idea or just the world and atmosphere the writer is painting. Sometimes it’s something totally new that makes your jaw drop. That one is my favourite. And sometimes you learn what you should avoid doing. There are almost always lessons you can learn. If you want to be a better writer you need to read a lot to get fresh input, broaden your horizons and deepen your knowledge. And to evolve you need to mix yourself up with new influences and see what happens. How do you find time to read more? You can cut down on other evening activities like watching TV-shows you don’t care for that much anyway. Or, as King suggests, you can bring a book to waiting rooms, treadmills or toilets. I like to plug in an audiobook while I’m on the bus or walking somewhere.
  7. Write a lot. I’ve saved the most important tip for last. To become a better writer you probably – and not so surprisingly – need to write more. Many of the best in different fields – Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods – have gone beyond normal limits of practise. And so they reap extraordinary results. But what do you do when you don’t feel like writing? Waiting for inspiration can become a long wait.

A few additional tips:

  • Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.
  • Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.
  • It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.
  • Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.

KMBA-Ira Glass Quote

“Basically the more rules a person lays down as to what a script needs to be – the less they know what they’re doing. Because, in reality, when you get really good at writing, you hear the music. And structure becomes second nature.” Marc Zicree 

Quotes on Writing:

  • Not diaries: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_Library_100_Best_Novels
  • Being a writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the internet.
  • Single worst piece of writing advice I ever got was to stay away from the Internet because it would only waste my time. Cory Doctorow
  • If you have no sense of urgency to succeed in life…YOU WILL NOT.
  • Best prescription for writer’s block: FEAR OF POVERTY. Peter Mayle
  • Somewhere along the line pernicious critics have invested the American reading and writing public with the idea that entertaining fiction and serious ideas do not overlap. This would have surprised Charles Dickens, not to mention Jane Austen, John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, Bernard Malamud, and hundreds of others. Not one of these writers wrote their greatest works in the first person. Stephen King
  • Leave the dishes unwashed and the demands on your time unanswered. Be ruthless and refuse to do what people ask of you. Lynne Schwartz
  • Begin with an individual and you find that you have created a type; begin with a type and you find that you have created — nothing. Fitzgerald
  • Breathe in experience, breathe out poetry. Muriel Rukeyser
  • You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write. Saul Bellow
  • You can’t learn to write in college. It’s a very bad place for writers because the teachers always think they know more than you do—and they don’t. They have prejudices. Ray Bradbury
  • Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style. Kurt Vonnegut
  • The ideal reader of my novels is a lapsed Catholic and failed musician, short-sighted, color-blind, auditorily biased, who has read the books that I have read. He should also be about my age. Anthony Burgess
  • Of course I thought I was Jo in Little Women. But I didn’t want to write what Jo wrote. Then in Martin Eden I found a writer-protagonist with whose writing I could identify, so then I wanted to be Martin Eden—minus, of course, the dreary fate Jack London gives him. I saw myself as (I guess I was) a heroic autodidact. I looked forward to the struggle of the writing life. I thought of being a writer as a heroic vocation. Susan Sontag
  • Don’t live with anybody who doesn’t support your work. Grace Paley
  • If you did not write every day, the poisons would accumulate and you would begin to die, or act crazy or both – you must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. Bradbury
  • A person who dares to waste an hour of time has not discovered the value of life. Darwin
  • Kill writing procrastination for good with three words: Do your best. Angela Booth
  • When asked what was the most frightening thing he had ever encountered, novelist Ernest Hemingway said, “A blank sheet of paper.”
  • I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work. Pearl S. Buck
  • Writing a book is like putting a message in a bottle and throwing it in the ocean. You never know if it will reach any shores. Isabel Allende
  • Don’t wait for 100% acceptance of yourself before you write, or even 8% acceptance. Just write. Natalie Goldberg
  • My prescription for writer’s block is to face the fact that there is no such thing. It’s an invented condition, a literary version of the judicial “abuse excuse.” Writing well is difficult, but one can always write something. And then, with a lot of work, make it better. It’s a question of having enough will and ambition, not of hoping to evade this mysterious hysteria people are always talking about. Thomas Mallon
  • Appealing workplaces are to be avoided. One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark. Dillard
  • Alcohol never prevented me from writing. But when I quit — on January 24, 1977, at 9:30 A.M.—my fiction got better. Elmore Leonard
  • Advice for a young writer: work, work, work, sit at your desk and sweat. Shelby Foote
  • A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper. E.B. White
  • Not writing is probably the most exhausting profession I’ve ever encountered. It takes it out of you. Lebowitz
  • Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. Doctorow
  • Don’t write it right, just write it—and then make it right later. Tara Moss
  • The person born with a talent they are meant to use will find their greatest happiness in using it. Goethe
  • I’m just writing a story that I want to read. Auel
  • I’ve always tried out material on my dogs first. Steinbeck
  • Whatever you do…avoid piles. Eliot
  • Allende once said that writing a book is like putting a message in a bottle and throwing it in the ocean. You never know if it will reach any shores.
  • The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. Plath
  • I’m just writing a story that I want to read. Jean Marie Auel
  • It’s unnatural, spending most of one’s waking hours going into a room alone. You have to protect your writing time. You have to protect it to the death. William Goldman
  • Read widely and with discrimination. Bad writing is contagious. P.D. James
  • #1 FH rule: if you have earned a Friendly Helper you sure as hell do not need drugs. Ever. They destroy me.
  • Be the Light, not the Moth; speak for the innocent and forgotten, your work becomes holy. The world like me will rise to help you.
  • Be regular and orderly like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work. Flaubert
  • Only God gets things right the first time. Stephen King
  • One who labors diligently need never despair, for all things are accomplished by diligence and labor. Menander
  • Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid. Basil King
  • A hunch is creativity trying to tell you something. Frank Capra
  • When I am writing, I am doing the thing I was meant to do. Anne Sexton
  • Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else. Gloria Steinem
  • The act of writing is an act of optimism. You would not take the trouble to do it if you felt that it didn’t matter. Edward Albee
  • To write something, you have to risk making a fool of yourself. Anne Rice
  • The only reason for being a professional writer is that you just can’t help it. Leo Rosten
  • A great deal of talent is lost to the world for want of a little courage. Sidney Smith
  • Writing a book is like washing an elephant: no good place to begin or end & it’s hard to keep track of what you’ve already covered. Anon !!!!!
  • If you could get up the courage to begin, you have the courage to succeed. David Viscott
  • A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow. Anon
  • If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse. Anon
  • Success follows trying. Failure also follows trying. Nothing, however, follows nothing. So try! Anon
  • Not Diaries: “A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.” G K Chesterton
  • Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself. Faulkner
  • No regime has ever loved great writers, only minor ones. Alexander Solzhenitsyn
  • If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves. Thomas Alva Edison
  • A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit. Richard Bach
  • I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work. Pearl S. Buck
  • My prescription for writer’s block is to face the fact that there is no such thing. It’s an invented condition, a literary version of the judicial “abuse excuse.” Writing well is difficult, but one can always write something. And then, with a lot of work, make it better. It’s a question of having enough will and ambition, not of hoping to evade this mysterious hysteria people are always talking about. Thomas Mallon
  • You don’t find time to write. You make time. It’s my job. Nora Roberts
  • Best advice I’ve ever received: Finish. Peter Mayle

Archive of #WriteTip Posts via Oceanbluesky:

#Writetip from Gilbert similar to “The best writing advice I’ve ever heard Don’t write like you went to college” Kahnpic.twitter.com/kV8CgdiQ

Fascinating wiki article useful to understanding communication, visual, dialogue, etc http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constructed_language … #writetippic.twitter.com/hDq02stt

If Shakespeare handled this character differently he might have undermined Puritan Rev which came AFTER himhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rake_(character) … #writetip

Each character’s dialogue should sound unique & different; easy way to hear what this is really like? Talk shows with guest panels#writetip

#ListenWhileUDraw New favorite YouTube channel: this one is devoted to endangered languages!http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=FLmbtQpU9Hd-RtiDmdRbHoUw&feature=plcp #writetip #amwriting

#ListenWhileUDraw Ron Serling “angry young man” 1960s interview on self-censorship & integrity http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzBQSR-c9Y4 #wrtietip #amwriting

#ListenWhileUDraw Ron Serling on writing for television/filmhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evnNy541L9Q&feature=BFa&list=PL81FCF447E8C70158 #writetip#amwriting @lawnrocket

Virtually the only things humans create lasting thousands of years are stories. (The Long Now Foundation vid:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIm8sSFFmxo ) #write

“My mother is love My father is love My prophet is love” Rumi (“sell cleverness, buy bewilderment” as in–>http://www.amazon.com/Mathnawi-Jalaluddin-Rumi-Volume-Set/dp/0906094275/ref=sr_1_35?ie=UTF8&qid=1330929911&sr=8-35 ) #wrtietip

‘Character Study’ columns in thhe NYTimes
http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/newyorkandregion/columns/character_study/index.html @crazymorse @A_robots_sun @AdviceToWriters #writetip #amwriting

Holy God…Shakespeare’s plays from around the world!! Arabic, Korean…hundreds! http://globalshakespeares.org THX2 @lauraine_a#amwriting #writetip

#Writetip: “The best writing advice I’ve ever heard: Don’t write like you went to college.” Alice Kahn (@paigeinathens “biblical length…;)

#Writing places to observe full spectrum society (not Starbucks): Walmart County Courthouses Parades Beaches Hospital Em Waiting Room…DMV

Need Shakespearian dialogue jesters comedic relief? Befriend panhandlers best conversationalists n our cocooned society #amwriting #writetip

Background for very cool, meaningful adventure story: preventing high-tech rhino poaching http://bit.ly/znctZ5 #writing #film @lawnrocket

From Badlands & Grand Canyon to the Everglades & Petrified Forest check out Environ Conscious #Art Residence Programshttp://bit.ly/zzLMXW

#Writetip worldwide phenom: wealthy are cocooned; the poor are social, talkative, filled with stories, jokes, & 1liners; especially homeless

2books 4creative blocks “On Writing”http://www.amazon.com/Writing-Stephen-King/dp/0743455967 “Bird by Bird” http://www.amazon.com/Bird-Some-Instructions-Writing-Life/dp/0385480016 #writetip #amwriting @lawnrocket@a_robots_sun

‘Little Drummer Boy’ perfect story/character for the Great Recession “I have no gifts to bring…”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkXDby0kZ1I #writetip #amwriting
One of my favorite examples of integrity: Brando listening to his Muses at 1:25 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_nXWeMFEt4&NR=1 @lawnrocket @A_robots_sun #art #film

Motivation break: winning Nicholl Fellowship script excerptshttp://www.oscars.org/awards/nicholl/fellows/25thscripts.html #film #amwriting #writetip @lawnrocket @A_robots_sun

“Only bad writers think their work is really good” Diana Athill; “The 1st draft of anything is shit” Hemingway @lawnrocket @A_robots_sun : )

“Why Adding Space to Any Story Makes It Better” : )http://io9.com/5867361/why-adding-in-space-to-any-concept-really-does-make-it-better/ RT @jeff_foust @lawnrocket @louiedelcarmen@firstnamedani #writetip

The “10,000 hours rule” http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=10,000+hours+rule&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8RT @lawnrocket (that is 1 of my fav quotes : )http://pic.twitter.com/rpwWq6RW

“Case for Adverbs: Without merrily we would row row row a boat downstream & think it a nightmare”http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2011/12/why-i-am-proudly-strongly-and-happily-in-favor-of-adverbs/249336/ #writetip #amwriting

Need character? ‘Daruma’ Japan’s most pop good luck talisman! http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/daruma.shtml also netsuke http://www.google.com/search?q=netsuke&hl=en&client=safari&rls=en&prmd=imvnsbl&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=sqvHTsKDBsqCtgfg7IGRDA&ved=0CGQQsAQ&biw=1044&bih=1068 #amwriting #writetip

Souls desperate broken&thankful n ways we may never experience write directly to God: read hospital chapel prayer books #writetip #NaNoWriMo

For writing/researching a historical adventure this is a wiki page worth bookmarkhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trade_route  #NaNoWriMo

Need a #NaNoWriMo research folder accessible anywhere? Consider making a FB page for your project (also ‘useful’ procrastination) #amwriting

Beware of @celtx — there’s no auto-recovery (like Word). Lose power and the most you will have auto-saved is five minutes past. #NaNoWriMo

“25 Things U Should Know About #NaNoWriMo “…the zero draft…wordmonkees…”Don’t stop on November 30th”http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2011/10/04/25-things-you-should-know-about-nanowrimo/ @A_robots_sun

If you are #NaNoWriMo‘ing check out @Elumir’sNaNoToons Page on Facebook : )http://on.fb.me/vtA55b #amwriting

“Children’s Authors Who Broke Rules” Sendak Silverstein Geiselhttp://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/18/books/review/the-childrens-authors-who-broke-the-rules.html#scbwi #NaNoWriMo #amwriting #kidlitchat #illustration

40 minute Iain McCaig interview “The Art of Visual Storytelling” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNu4xzHTP60  #NaNoWriMo #amwriting

For a #SciFi #NaNoWriMo consider supporting ‘Mars to Stay’ in a background subplot or contexthttp://Facebook.com/MarsToStay #amwriting #writetip

Abandoned Newborn Infants program (worth promotion) could inspire your rewrites of classic storieshttp://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/30/us/10-years-of-hope-trying-to-save-abandoned-newborns.html?hp  #NaNoWriMo #writetip

#Writetip Great Recession will b cultural event like Vietnam1960s get ahead of it. Character traits frugal hardworking innovative hustle4$ok

Consider creating a bookmark to learn new random word via this url http://wordsmith.org/words/random.cgi #amwriting  #writetip

Consider creating a bookmark to open random #wikipedia page using this urlhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random #writetip #amwriting

“Our choices show what we are, more than our abilities” Rowling http://bit.ly/ocC2N5 Likewise for characters & stories #writetip #amwriting

RT @AdviceToWriters “Go out and see something of life…” http://t.co/F3ClFJv #amwriting #writing #writetip

Very helpful RT @AdviceToWriters <- Highly Recommend #FF “10 Writing Mistakes” http://bit.ly/ejdCDk#writing #writetip #amwriting

1 decent #poem in your Inbox each day = thousands in a couple yearshttp://www.poets.org/poemADay.php #amwriting  #writetip

AMEN RT @AdviceToWriters “You can’t learn to write in college” http://www.advicetowriters.com/#amwriting #writing #writetip might as well study science

Thought-provoking YT channels for listening while you draw http://www.openculture.com/smartyoutube#amwriting  #writetip

Gasp! Google Earth & GPS as used by historians, authors, artists, & archeologists http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/27/arts/geographic-information-systems-help-scholars-see-history.html?_r=1&hp #FactualFiction #amwriting  #writetip

RT @AdviceToWriters Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life. LAWRENCE KASDAN#amwriting #writing #writetip

RT @AdviceToWriters If it pleases you and you can write at all, it’s gonna please somebody else. CHARLAINE HARRIS#amwriting #writing #writetip

Try to write among humans not sterile office/Starbucks: Walmart & hospital cafeterias dog runs trains/buses park/beach #amwriting  #writetip

One of my favorite consistently inspiring sites http://badassoftheweek.com #film #amwriting  #writetip #art

RT @AdviceToWriters The easiest thing to do on earth is not write. WILLIAM GOLDMAN #amwriting#writing #writetip

3days ago I literally was trying 2figure out how 2bug a church’s confessional, really, not kidding…thankfuly @SecretTweet is mor efficient

When readng @secrettweet keep n mind what Freud said, “If men knew how women thought, they would be ten times more bold!” Live who U R! B U!

RT @AdviceToWriters There is no such thing as a good script. JOHN FORD #screenwriting #Writetip

Oh no, no. I’m going 2waste DAYS reading @secrettweet even if most is petty boring &lame I LOVE honesty. Actualy som great material&dialogue

RT @AdviceToWriters If you want to work on your #art, work on your life. ANTON CHEKHOV#amwriting #literature #writing #writetip

“Very” is the most useless word in the English language and can always come out. FLORENCE KING#amwriting #writing #writetip

RT @AdviceToWriters Writing well means never having to say, “I guess you had to be there.” JEF MALLETT

Great story about the power & duties of your imagination shared by poet Wendell Berryhttp://bit.ly/hiCclS

If you need heroic dialogue or pov: http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/08/subtitled-video-of-wael-ghonims-emotional-tv-interview/?hp

Heroic Imagination http://blog.ted.com/2011/02/03/phil-zimbardo-and-the-heroic-imagination-project-ted-blog-exclusive-video/

Tahrir Protesters Singing w/Guitar (English Transcript) Enjoy! http://youtube.com/watch?v=gPhj5XnPjaU

“Girls already know they can be the main pirates; it’s the boys who aren’t getting the message.” —http://bit.ly/hnTTS7

If you’re on a Mac go to Apple Icon > Software Update to install OS update, new Mac Apps store opened today…Evernote = free, recommend

“Next Year’s Wars” 16 conflict zones for reflection and work http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/12/28/next_years_wars?page=full

20,000 women and children have fled Ivory Coast (…microcosm of tribal politics worldwide) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12091738

Tangled Directors Q&A – Flynn’s Character dev “he’s very handsome” So he looks exactly like you two? LOL #diversity plz http://bit.ly/aSoeRd

RT @openculture In case you missed it: iTunes U introduces free eBooks. Start by downloading the complete works of Shakespeare: http://cultr.me/aKBsbV

“Men nervous about her erotic intensity could feel superior by making fun of her intellectually” ☼ ☼ EXTRAORDINARY ☼ ☼ http://nyti.ms/92C7Qz

RT @lawnrocket I assure you, when a girl sees a movie directed by or about a woman, she cares and notices.

RT @dosomething 25,000 child brides a day is unacceptable. Follow @girlup @zainabsalbi and visit www.girlup.org www.womenforwomen.org

“Why,” she cried, “are we getting more girls in the family?” http://nyti.ms/99JI4X “Nothing in me feels like a girl” like Shakespeare story