Writing Tips from History’s Greatest Authors

Take heart, fellow newbies! Everybody’s been where we are…and a lot of them have survived, even prospered!

Um, we could’ve put that more positively, couldn’t we? Ah, but that’s what the following article is for:

Hey, what series did this dood ever create?

Hey, what series did this dood ever create?

by Matt Burke

We’ve all been there — staring back and forth between an empty, glowing white screen and the clock as your deadline crawls ever closer. Would it help to know you’re not alone? Probably not.

But even the world’s greatest authors have had trouble starting, finishing, and doing everything in between with their writing. So when it comes to writing tips, they certainly have their opinions. Here are twelve of them, written in a way that only they could.

1) William Allen White – Journalist/News Editor

“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.”

Though often mistakenly referenced as a quote by Mark Twain, White knows that adverbs can be dangerous if used overbearingly (see what I did there?). Very and similar words can bog a sentence down, and are often used where they shouldn’t be.

Most experienced writers do their best to avoid them. Was that memo you just read very important, or important — either way, the message remains the same. As Stephen King has said, “the road to hell is paved with adverbs,” and most of us would be hard-pressed to disagree.

2) Ernest Hemingway – Author, Nobel Prize Winner

“The first draft of everything is shit.”

Nothing is perfect, and with writing it’s no different. Things rarely work out the way you want on the first go, whether it’s writing, art, music — anything. It takes practice, and constant checks and balances to produce a well-rounded piece, as first drafts are meant to be experimented with.

If you’re sticking with the first draft, you’re effectively saying Eh, good enough, so remember to be honest with yourself. In the end, you know your audience will voice their opinions, so make it harder for them to voice the negative ones.

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