Philip Pullman on Stories

Stories have to begin. Out of the welter of events and ideas and pictures and characters and voices that you experience in your head, you the storyteller must choose the start. You could begin anywhere in the chronology, of course; you could begin in the middle, in medias res, which is a soundly classical way to begin; but you do …

Roald Dahl’s Seven Tips for Writers

You should have a lively imagination. You should be able to write well. By that I mean you should be able to make a scene come alive in the reader’s mind. Not everybody has this ability. It is a gift and you either have it or you don’t. You must have stamina. In other words, you must be able to …

Persistence

“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.” ― Octavia E. Butler

Truth and Freedom

“A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight. By using words well they strengthen their souls. Story-tellers and poets spend their lives learning that skill and art of …

On plotting and planning

I am having a hard time with the book. Have enough paper written to make it complete, but must do all over again. I just didn’t know where I was going and when I got there I saw that I had come to the wrong place. That’s the hell of being the kind of writer who cannot plan anything, but …

Speaking too soon

That is why writers are so unwilling to talk about a work in progress. They are afraid of speaking too soon and from the wrong place, with the wrong voice; of resolving too quickly, in talk, the tension whose energies they will need to draw on later, in solitary struggle and against the resistance of what has not yet been …

A story is like a house

“A story is not like a road to follow … it’s more like a house. You go inside and stay there for a while, wandering back and forth and settling where you like and discovering how the room and corridors relate to each other, how the world outside is altered by being viewed from these windows. And you, the visitor, …

One page for each day

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. – John Steinbeck

so you want to be a writer

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you in spite of everything, don’t do it. unless it comes unasked out of your heart and your mind and your mouth and your gut, don’t do it. if you have to sit for hours staring at your computer screen or hunched over your typewriter searching for words, don’t do it. if you’re …

The Journey

One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice– though the whole house began to tremble and you felt the old tug at your ankles. “Mend my life!” each voice cried. But you didn’t stop. You knew what you had to do, though the wind pried with …