Sunday, May 22, 2005

Quote Them

I can't find a couple of writer quotations that I want, and it's driving me nuts.

I always try to write on the principle of the iceberg. There is seven-eighths of it underwater for every part that shows. — Ernest Hemingway

This is pretty close to one I was hunting down; one that had a huge impact on me as a writer. The original went something like "The writer should always know a hell of a lot more about the character than the reader ever will."

Nobody wants to see the village of the happy people. — Lew Hunter

Except my mom. She wants me to move there. You can immediately imagine a screaming mob brandishing torches and pitchforks and rushing up the driveway to my happy cottage, right?

Character gives us qualities, but it is in actions — what we do — that we are happy or the reverse. ... All human happiness and misery take the form of action. — Aristotle

The guy's been dead 2,327 years, but his words still grab you by the throat and shake you until your teeth chatter.

Characters must not brood too long. They must not waste time running up and down ladders in their own insides. — E.M. Forster

How many writers do you want to send this one to?

Look if you like, but you will have to leap. — W.H. Auden

P.S., there's no net. I'm beginning to believe there will never be a net.

What's your favorite writer/about writers quotation?


  1. "It has never been, and never will be easy work! But the road that is built in hope is more pleasant to the traveler than the road built in despair, even though they both lead to the same destination."

    -- Marion Zimmer Bradley

    "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars."
    -- Les Brown

  2. My favorite is kind of an odd one, really, but reminds me that you just can't please everyone:

    "Another damned, thick, square, book! Always scribble, scribble, scribble! Eh! Mr. Gibbon?"

    William Henry, Duke of Gloucester, upon receiving the second volume of Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire from the author, 1781

  3. Anonymous12:43 AM

    "If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot."

    ~ Stephen King

  4. I have two files full of nothing but author quotes for a book that may someday be written, but I'll spare you and send along two quotations currently above my desk:

    Kurt Vonnegut: Every character should want something, even if it's only a glass of water.

    Terry Pratchett: The plot is not particularly important if you get the texture right.

    Plot I have no problems with. I'm just full of plot. But learning *texture* is what gets me thinking hard.

  5. Anonymous1:23 AM

    "All glory comes from daring to begin."

    It's on a poster for GOALS and applies to more than writing, but it always gives me a kick in the pants when i need it.

  6. Anonymous2:20 AM

    Writing is a solitary occupation. Family, friends, and society are the natural enemies of the writer. He must be alone, uninterrupted, and slightly savage if he is to sustain and complete an undertaking.

    -Lawrence Clark Powell

  7. "The two most beautiful words in the English language are 'check enclosed.'”

    --Dorothy Parker

    "Language is a virus from outer space."

    --William Burroughs

    "And there is absolutely no evidence that i could write a good book. It might perfectly well be the most awful weasel vomit."

    --Brenda Ueland

    But what I have taped to the top of my computer monitor is this:

    "Everything is futile but you must do it anyway, because effort is full victory."


  8. "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader"- Robert Frost

  9. Anonymous10:21 AM

    None of these are specifically by writers, but all have helped me with my writing. FM members will recognize these from my signature line on the forums.

    Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.-- Yoda

    Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just get up and go to work.--Chuck Close

    If you think you can, or if you think you can't, you're right.--Henry Ford

  10. Anonymous10:29 AM

    Years ago, Writer's Digest published a list of fifty tips from famous writers. 49 people said 49 intelligent, useful, poetic things, but the 50th was the one I've never forgotten:

    Write something every day.
    -- Roger Zelazny

    :) Misty

  11. Anonymous10:54 AM

    I have a couple of favorites:

    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


    "When writing a novel that's pretty much entirely what life turns into: 'House burned down. Car stolen. Cat exploded. Did 1500 easy words, so all in all it was a pretty good day.'
    - Neil Gaiman

    But I just found this one:

    Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. ~Anton Chekhov

  12. “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”

    ~Richard Bach~

  13. None of these are dreadfully snappy, but they all ring true to me.

    I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people. And therefore I am so grateful to God for giving me this gift of writing, of expressing all that is in me!
    —Anne Frank

    I don’t know how it is with other writers, but most of the time when I finish [reading] a story or novel, I may be pleased, I may even be impressed, but somewhere in the back of my mind I’m thinking, I can do that.
    —F. Paul Wilson

    I have read wonderfully written books that are entirely unsatisfactory to me because I do not believe that the author was writing a story. The author was writing a book. There is a great difference.
    —Kaitlyn Ramsey

    Style is made up of whatever an author can’t avoid doing.
    —Neil Gaiman

    Like every book I never wrote, it is by far the best book I have ever written.
    —G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man

    There is nothing more dreadful to an author than neglect, compared with which reproach, hatred and opposition are names of happiness.
    —Samuel Johnson

    There is a difference between writing and being an author. Authors talk. I’m standing here talking now. This has nothing to do with writing.
    —T.R. Pearson

  14. Anonymous12:25 PM

    Three favorites:
    "Writing equals ass plus chair." Quentin Tarantino

    "It's only a book." Lawrence Block

    "If you're blocked, lower your sights." Lawrence Block

    Charlene Teglia

  15. Anonymous1:50 PM

    It is a cardinal sin to bore the reader." -Larry Niven

  16. "Writers are liars, my dear"- Neil Gaiman, The Sandman.

    "I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters."

    "I picked up your book and couldn't stop laughing. One of these days I intend to read it." (I think Groucho Marx said this)

    "In the final analysis, real suspense comes with moral dilemma and the courage to make and act upon choices. False suspense comes from the accidental and meaningless occurrence of one damned thing after another." -John Gardner

    "Most writers regard the truth as their most valuable possession, and therefore are most economical in its use." -Mark Twain

    Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so. –Douglas Adams


  17. Here's the Hemingway quote you were looking for. You can relax now. (grin)

    If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water.
    Ernest Hemingway

  18. A writer is someone who has more problems writing than other people. Thomas Mann

    After I had the chance to see some of his original notes and manuscript pages, I accepted my Internal Editor. There's still a chance to get a Nobel Prize despite that bugger sitting on my shoulder. LOL

  19. Anonymous4:52 AM

    Robert E Howard (1906-36) provided me with a manifesto in his poem "Musings"

    The little poets sing of little things:
    Hope, cheer, and faith, small queens and puppet kings;
    Lovers who kissed and then were made as one,
    And modest flowers waving in the sun.
    The mighty poets write in blood and tears
    And agony that, flame-like, bites and sears.
    They reach their mad blind hands into the night,
    To plumb abysses dead to human sight;
    To drag from gulfs where lunacy lies curled,
    Mad, monstrous nightmare shapes to blast the world.

  20. Anonymous9:29 AM

    Australian author Sara Henderson:
    "Don't wait for a light to appear at the end of the tunnel. Stride down there… and light the bloody thing yourself."

  21. I wish I could remember who said the original form of what is quoted from Quentin Tarantino above:

    "The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair."

  22. My teeth hurt now...


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