Kate Grenville (b. October 14): “Fiction is a lot more than entertainment” & other quotes on writing

14 Oct


Kate Grenville, born 14 October 1950, is an Australian author who’s published nine novels, a collection of short stories and four books on writing. She’s won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Orange Prize. Two of her novels have been made into feature films.

Six quotes on writing:

  1. I’m a great believer in the experiential theory of writing.
  2. A novel is a way of living in another person’s reality for a time.
  3. History is a lot more than facts and fiction is a lot more than entertainment. 
  4. You can’t necessarily change the way language is used, but if it becomes something you’re conscious of … that gives you a certain power over it.
  5. For me, fiction’s job is to take you (both reader and writer) out of your comfort zone into the deep space of the new.  There’s a natural resistance to that. 
  6. Two pieces of advice: One, write out of an urge to write, not a desire to be a writer. That is, write about things that are important to you rather than things you think will find a market. Two, find some kind of paid work that will free you from the need to make a living from your writing, while giving you some time to write. 

e.e. cummings (b. October 14): “Unless you love someone…”

14 Oct


“Unless you love someone, nothing else makes any sense.”

~ e.e. cummings, b. 14 Ocober 1894



Lenny Bruce (b. October 13): “If you can take the hot lead enema…”

13 Oct


“If you can take the hot lead enema, then you can cast the first stone.”

~ Lenny Bruce, b. 13 October 1925



Aleister Crowley (b. October 12): “I was not content to believe in a personal devil…”

12 Oct


“I was not content to believe in a personal devil and serve him, in the ordinary sense of the word. I wanted to get hold of him personally and become his chief of staff.”

~ Aleister Crowley, b. 12 October 1875



Elmore Leonard (b. October 11): “Leave out the part readers tend to skip” & 10 other rules of writing

11 Oct

Elmore Leonard (11 October 1925 – 20 August 2013) was an American novelist and screenwriter. He started writing westerns, but went on to specialize in crime fiction and thrillers, many of which were adapted for film. His best-known works are Get ShortyOut of Sight, and Rum Punch, which was filmed as Jackie Brown.

Elmore Leonard’s 11 Rules of Writing Fiction

  1. Never open a book with weather. If it’s only to create atmosphere, and not a charac­ter’s reaction to the weather, you don’t want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leap ahead look­ing for people. There are exceptions. If you happen to be Barry Lopez, who has more ways than an Eskimo to describe ice and snow in his book Arctic Dreams, you can do all the weather reporting you want.
  2. Avoid prologues: they can be ­annoying, especially a prologue ­following an introduction that comes after a foreword. But these are ordinarily found in non-fiction. A prologue in a novel is backstory, and you can drop it in anywhere you want. There is a prologue in John Steinbeck’s Sweet Thursday, but it’s OK because a character in the book makes the point of what my rules are all about. He says: “I like a lot of talk in a book and I don’t like to have nobody tell me what the guy that’s talking looks like. I want to figure out what he looks like from the way he talks.”
  3. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue. The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But “said” is far less intrusive than “grumbled”, “gasped”, “cautioned”, “lied”. I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with “she asseverated” and had to stop reading and go to the dictionary.
  4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” … he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin. The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt the rhythm of the exchange. I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances “full of rape and adverbs”.
  5. Keep your exclamation points ­under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. If you have the knack of playing with exclaimers the way Tom Wolfe does, you can throw them in by the handful.
  6. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose”. This rule doesn’t require an explanation. I have noticed that writers who use “suddenly” tend to exercise less control in the application of exclamation points.
  7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly. Once you start spelling words in dialogue phonetically and loading the page with apos­trophes, you won’t be able to stop. Notice the way Annie Proulx captures the flavour of Wyoming voices in her book of short stories Close Range.
  8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters, which Steinbeck covered. In Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants”, what do the “Ameri­can and the girl with him” look like? “She had taken off her hat and put it on the table.” That’s the only reference to a physical description in the story.
  9. Don’t go into great detail describing places and things, unless you’re Margaret Atwood and can paint scenes with language. You don’t want descriptions that bring the action, the flow of the story, to a standstill.
  10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them.
  11. My most important rule is one that sums up the 10: if it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.



David Lee Roth (b. October 10): “The problem with self-improvement….”

10 Oct


“The problem with self-improvement is knowing when to quit.”  

~ David Lee Roth, b. 10 October 1955



Bruno Mars (b. October 8th): “Music is not math…”

8 Oct


“Music is not math. It’s science. You keep mixing the stuff up until it blows up on you, or it becomes this incredible potion.”

~ Bruno Mars, b. 8 October 1985



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