Editing

Tools from the Front Lines: Quotations on Writing

Okay, admit it, you love to read quotes about writing or writers. Especially if they’re from other writers. So do I. In fact, I keep a growing list of quotations that inspire me, or make me laugh, or make me think. And on those days when I’m struggling, or when I feel the right words are eluding me, I fix myself a cup of coffee, open up the list, and spend time just reading.

So here, to get you started, are some of my favorites to inspire (or amuse) you.

“Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” E.L. Doctorow

“I try to leave out the parts that people skip.” Elmore Leonard

“I want to see Christian fiction speak to the hard and real issues that tear people’s lives apart.” Francine Rivers

 “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” Douglas Adams  (Note from KB: I even have a poster of this one!)

 “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

“Readers need to see themselves between the lines of the story.” Karen Kingsbury

“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.” Winston Churchill

“Don’t get it right, just get it written” James Thurber

“Never despise meager beginnings!” Janette Oke

“When you give up a bit of work don’t (unless it is hopelessly bad) throw it away. Put it in a drawer. It may come in useful later. Much of my best work, or what I think my best, is the re-writing of things begun and abandoned years earlier.” C.S. Lewis

“I never expected any sort of success with To Kill a Mockingbird… I sort of hoped someone would like it enough to give me encouragement.” Harper Lee

Okay, your turn! What are some of your favorite quotes about writing?

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Things My Editor Does That I Take for Granted

“You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you, and we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.” – Arthur Plotnik “No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else’s draft.” – H.G. Wells You editor is someone …

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But My Critique Group Likes It!

Over the years, I have received this comment from frustrated authors when a work didn’t hit the mark with me. As someone who penned many books in the past myself, I understand and sympathize with these authors. However, this argument will almost  never get an author another read of the …

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Returning Lemonade to the Lemons

Arrogant Writer

In my opinion, there are too many suggestions to improve things. Ten keys to success, five days to improving something, 12 steps to overcoming something, transform something by the end of the week, etc. An entirely neglected approach to life is how to make it go sour. Messing it up …

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When the Gloves Come Off

Fist Slams Table in Anger

The publishing experience is rarely done in isolation. This means working with other people. And if their performance or effort does not meet your expectations, conflict can occur. Over the years I’ve seen more conflict than you can imagine…or all types and variety. But the majority of issues boil down …

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Editing Etiquette

Writers and editors have a love-hate relationship. Okay, sometimes it can feel like a hate-hate relationship. Writers all know they need to be edited, but getting the manuscript back with those edits can be more painful than passing a kidney stone. And editors know they need to respect the author’s …

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10 Things Every Writer Should Do

  I’m a list person. In part, that’s because said lists serve to bump my memory when it gets…um…lost. But I also just love lists—especially lists of things you should (or shouldn’t) do. So here, for your perusal, are my top ten things every writer should do every day: Stretch …

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Chapters: How Long is Too Long?

I’ve had a number of people ask me lately how long their chapters should be. My answer has been: “As long as they need to be.” Now, it would be nice if I could give folks the “industry-standard” answer: “Chapters should be no less than xx and no longer than …

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How Much Back Story?

Sometimes in my review of a novel, I find that the story doesn’t pick up soon enough. I’m not sure what I’ll be reading about and my interest may lag, though I can still eye great writing.

“But I wanted my readers to know about my characters,” the author may protest.

Understandable, indeed.

However, I believe it’s important to lay out the basic conflicts for the reader early on so she’ll know what she’ll be exploring with you and will be eager to keep diving in. Before I learn that the hero had a difficult childhood and the heroine struggles with lingering effects of poverty, I want to know their immediate obstacles to their current goals. Those goals may be (whether they know it or not) their ultimate romance. Or they may be involved in a quest. Or perhaps solving a mystery. In any event, the reader wants to know what type of book he’ll be reading and will want to learn what obstacles he’ll be overcoming with the characters right away. Then, once the reader is interested in the characters’ journey, their back story will be all the more fascinating and relevant.

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The Right (Size) Stuff

One hundred and fifty years ago this fall, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address on the site of the battle that turned the tide of the American Civil War.  It was 270 words and took two minutes to deliver.

Not as memorable was the 13,600-word oratory by American statesman Edward Everett that lasted for two hours prior to Lincoln’s epic speech. In fact, the program for that November 19, 1863 event consisted of eight elements…four songs, two prayers, Everett’s speech and a few words from the President.

History elevated those two minutes by the President to some of the greatest words ever spoken. The rest of the program is all but forgotten.

Recently I was in an airport terminal waiting to board a flight and the well-intentioned airline employee picked up the really bad microphone and began explaining the boarding procedure for my flight in tremendous detail.

Fifteen minutes later (I am not kidding, I timed it) the announcement was finished.

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