Favorite Writing Quotes

A collection of brilliant writing quotes garnered from various sources. This page will be updated sporadically, so check back every so often!

 

“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.” – Neil Gaiman

“The moment your writing feels like homework is the moment you should stop doing it. It means that your project is either wrong or has gone off the rails. This is when you have to be honest with yourself about why you’re writing whatever it is you’re writing.” – Douglas Coupland

“Be a sadist. Now 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.” – Kurt Vonnegut

“The personages in a tale shall be alive, except in the case of corpses, and that always the reader shall be able to tell the corpses from the others.” – Mark Twain

“If you are not arrogant enough to want to surpass your inspirations, and if you aren’t humble enough to accept the help it takes to get there, you may be boring.” – Phil Jourdan

“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.” – Emma Coats

“If you feel at all unhappy with your work, there is a good reason for it. Trust your judgment. Write the draft again, and again.” – Peter Carey

“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.” – John Steinbeck

“People writing solely to make money can always be picked out of a criminal line-up. They look cheap, sweaty and desperate. The rest of us just look desperate.” – Meg Rosoff

“Respect your characters, even the ­minor ones. In art, as in life, everyone is the hero of their own particular story; it is worth thinking about what your minor characters’ stories are, even though they may intersect only slightly with your protagonist’s.” – Sarah Waters

“Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand – but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never ­being satisfied.” – Zadie Smith

“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.” – Margaret Atwood

“Fiction that isn’t an author’s personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown isn’t worth writing for anything but money.” – Jonathan Franzen

“Write a book you’d like to read. If you wouldn’t read it, why would anybody else? Don’t write for a perceived audience or market. It may well have vanished by the time your book’s ready.” – Hilary Mantel

“Leave out the parts readers tend to skip.” – Elmore Leonard

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