Tag Archives: plot

Sue Grafton (b. April 24): “Ideas are easy. It’s their execution that separates the sheep from the goats.”

24 Apr

Sue Grafton, born 24th April 1940, is an American crime writer. She is best known as the author of the ‘alphabet series’, starting with “A” Is for Alibi. The books feature private investigator Kinsey Millhone in the fictional city of Santa Teresa, California. Grafton is the daughter of detective novelist C. W. Grafton. She wrote screenplays for television movies before she became a novelist.

Quotes on writing:

  1. Ideas are easy. It’s the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats.
  2. I focus on the writing and let the rest of the process take care of itself. I’ve learned to trust my own instincts and I’ve also learned to take risks.
  3. I write letters to my right brain all the time. They’re just little notes. And right brain, who likes to get little notes from me, will often come through within a day or two.
  4. We all need to look into the dark side of our nature – that’s where the energy is, the passion. People are afraid of that because it holds pieces of us we’re busy denying.
  5. I started writing seriously when I was 18, wrote my first novel when I was 22, and I’ve never stopped writing since. Of the first seven novels I wrote, numbers four and five were published. Numbers one, two, three, six, and seven, have never seen the light of day…and rightly so. The eighth novel I wrote was ‘A’ IS FOR ALIBI.
  6. I’m a writer by default. I think it is in my blood and in my bones. As I was growing up, women could be secretaries, nurses, ballerinas or airline stewardesses and I’m squeamish so there went my nursing career. I started writing early in my life as a way of surviving and my way of processing rage, grief and confusion. Now it is just what I do because I love it.
  7. I think with the mystery novel you have to know where you’re going, but not in any great detailed sense. I generally know whodunit, who died, and what the motive for the crime was. Then I have to figure out what I call the angle of attack. In other words, how do you cut into the story? Where does the story begin? What’s relevant in that first line or paragraph from the reader’s point of view? And I have to figure out who hires Kinsey Millhone, and what she’s hired to do.
  8. For one thing the mystery novel is a very elegant, delicate, highly structured form. You need to know how to plot, how to structure a story, you need to understand how to make a character work. People who start writing and think they can start with the mystery novel are often defeated before they put that first word on the page. So my advice is to learn your craft with mainstream fiction, where you’re not as stringently challenged and then come to the mystery when you’ve acquired some of the proficiencies that you need.
  9. I’m usually at my desk by 8:30 or 9:00. I like a tidy office because I find messes distracting. Being disorganized wastes time. I keep journals for every novel I write, and I start my workday by logging in, talking to myself about where I am in a novel and how I feel. I focus on the scene or story moves coming up. I worry about pacing and suspense. I revise. I stop sometimes and consult my research library, which is packed with books about crime and law enforcement. If I’m stuck, I call on the small army of experts who assist with each book. I break for a brief lunch and then work another couple of hours. Most days, I walk three to five miles when I’ve finished writing. I need the stress relief and fresh air.

John Irving (b. March 2nd): “You’ve got to get obsessed and stay obsessed.”

2 Mar
irving3

pinterest.com/pin/39406565465762001/

John Irving, born 2 March 1942, is an American novelist and Academy Award-winning screenwriter. His novels include The World According to GarpA Widow for One YearThe Cider House Rules, and A Prayer for Owen Meany. Five of his novels have been adapted to film. He won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Cider House Rules.

Quotes on writing

  1. Half my life is an act of revision. 
  2. You’ve got to get obsessed and stay obsessed. 
  3. I’m old-fashioned, a storyteller. I’m not an analyst and I’m not an intellectual.
  4. The building of the architecture of a novel – the craft of it – is something I never tire of.
  5. I’ve always preferred writing in longhand. I’ve always written first drafts in longhand.
  6. I write very quickly; I rewrite very slowly. It takes me nearly as long to rewrite a book as it does to get the first draft.
  7. Writing a novel is actually searching for victims. As I write I keep looking for casualties. The stories uncover the casualties. 
  8. I am compulsive about writing, I need to do it the way I need sleep and exercise and food and sex; I can go without it for a while, but then I need it.
  9. The way you define yourself as a writer is that you write every time you have a free minute. If you didn’t behave that way you would never do anything.
  10. I don’t begin a novel or a screenplay until I know the ending. And I don’t mean only that I have to know what happens. I mean that I have to hear the actual sentences. I have to know what atmosphere the words convey. 
  11. When I was still in prep school – 14, 15 – I started keeping notebooks, journals. I started writing, almost like landscape drawing or life drawing. I never kept a diary, I never wrote about my day and what happened to me, but I described things. 
  12. I am not attracted to writers by style. What style do Dickens, Grass, and Vonnegut have in common? How silly! I am attracted to what makes them angry, what makes them passionate, what outrages them, what they applaud and find sympathetic in human beings and what they detest about human beings, too. They are writers of great emotional range.
  13. You bet I write disaster fiction. We have compiled a disastrous record on this planet, a record of stupidity and absurdity and self-abuse and self-aggrandizement and self-deception and pompousness and self-righteousness and cruelty and indifference beyond what any other species has demonstrated the capacity for, which is the capacity for all the above.
  14. Along the (writing) way accidents happen, detours get taken… But these are not “divine” accidents; I don’t believe in those. I believe you have constructive accidents en route through a novel only because you have mapped a clear way. If you have confidence that you have a clear direction to take, you always have confidence to explore other ways; if they prove to be mere digressions, you’ll recognize that and make the necessary revisions. The more you know about a book, the freer you can be to fool around. The less you know, the tighter you get.

Elizabeth George (b. February 26): “I have to know the killer…”

26 Feb
george

pinterest.com/pin/39406565465739058/

Elizabeth George, born 26 February 1949, is an American author of mystery novels set in Great Britain. 11 of her novels have been adapted for television by the BBC as The Inspector Lynley Mysteries.

Quotes on writing:

  1. It is the job of the novelist to touch the reader.
  2. I wish that I’d known back then that a mastery of process would lead to a product. Then I probably wouldn’t have found it so frightening to write.
  3. I find it both fascinating and disconcerting when I discover yet another person who believes that writing can’t be taught. Frankly, I don’t understand this point of view.
  4. I have to know the killer, the victim and the motive when I begin. Then I start to create the characters and see how the novel takes shape based on what these people are like.
  5. Essentially and most simply put, plot is what the characters do to deal with the situation they’re in. It’s a logical sequence of events that grow from an initial incident that alters the status quo of the characters.
  6. Plotting is difficult for me, and always has been. I do that before I actually start writing, but I always do characters, and the arc of the story, first… You can’t do anything without a story arc. Where is it going to begin, where will it end.
  7. Lots of people want to have written; they don’t want to write. In other words, they want to see their name on the front cover of a book and their grinning picture on the back. But this is what comes at the end of a job, not at the beginning.

Sue Grafton (b. April 24): “Ideas are easy. It’s their execution that separates the sheep from the goats.”

24 Apr

Sue Grafton, born 24th April 1940, is an American crime writer. She is best known as the author of the ‘alphabet series’, starting with “A” Is for Alibi. The books feature private investigator Kinsey Millhone in the fictional city of Santa Teresa, California. Grafton is the daughter of detective novelist C. W. Grafton. She wrote screenplays for television movies before she became a novelist.

Quotes on writing:

  1. Ideas are easy. It’s the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats.
  2. I focus on the writing and let the rest of the process take care of itself. I’ve learned to trust my own instincts and I’ve also learned to take risks.
  3. I write letters to my right brain all the time. They’re just little notes. And right brain, who likes to get little notes from me, will often come through within a day or two.
  4. We all need to look into the dark side of our nature – that’s where the energy is, the passion. People are afraid of that because it holds pieces of us we’re busy denying.
  5. I started writing seriously when I was 18, wrote my first novel when I was 22, and I’ve never stopped writing since. Of the first seven novels I wrote, numbers four and five were published. Numbers one, two, three, six, and seven, have never seen the light of day…and rightly so. The eighth novel I wrote was ‘A’ IS FOR ALIBI.
  6. I’m a writer by default. I think it is in my blood and in my bones. As I was growing up, women could be secretaries, nurses, ballerinas or airline stewardesses and I’m squeamish so there went my nursing career. I started writing early in my life as a way of surviving and my way of processing rage, grief and confusion. Now it is just what I do because I love it.
  7. I think with the mystery novel you have to know where you’re going, but not in any great detailed sense. I generally know whodunit, who died, and what the motive for the crime was. Then I have to figure out what I call the angle of attack. In other words, how do you cut into the story? Where does the story begin? What’s relevant in that first line or paragraph from the reader’s point of view? And I have to figure out who hires Kinsey Millhone, and what she’s hired to do.
  8. For one thing the mystery novel is a very elegant, delicate, highly structured form. You need to know how to plot, how to structure a story, you need to understand how to make a character work. People who start writing and think they can start with the mystery novel are often defeated before they put that first word on the page. So my advice is to learn your craft with mainstream fiction, where you’re not as stringently challenged and then come to the mystery when you’ve acquired some of the proficiencies that you need.
  9. I’m usually at my desk by 8:30 or 9:00. I like a tidy office because I find messes distracting. Being disorganized wastes time. I keep journals for every novel I write, and I start my workday by logging in, talking to myself about where I am in a novel and how I feel. I focus on the scene or story moves coming up. I worry about pacing and suspense. I revise. I stop sometimes and consult my research library, which is packed with books about crime and law enforcement. If I’m stuck, I call on the small army of experts who assist with each book. I break for a brief lunch and then work another couple of hours. Most days, I walk three to five miles when I’ve finished writing. I need the stress relief and fresh air.

Jeffrey Archer (b. April 15): “There’s no substitute for reading great novelists.”

15 Apr

archer

Jeffrey Archer, born 15 April 1940, is an English author and former politician. His books, starting with Kane and Abel, have sold at least 250 million copies worldwide.

Jeffrey Archer’s top 10 writing tips:

  1. Make time. “Decide when you’re going to write. Don’t be casual and only do it as and when it suits you. Don’t think you can write a novel after you’ve done a hard day’s work, it’s insulting to those professional novelists who spend their time doing nothing else.” 
  2. Be disciplined. “For example, I write from 6-8am, 10-12am, 2-4pm, 6-8pm. I keep that routine up for 40-50 days and handwrite every word. I then take a break and go back to it again a month later.” 
  3. Write what you know. “Don’t do vampires, wizards or ghosts because they’re in fashion. Jane Austen wrote about family life in a small village and gave us six of the greatest novels ever written.” 
  4. Get some fresh air. “I go for two long walks between sessions, for two reasons, physical and mental. The plot will buzz around in your mind while you are walking, continually churning over, which it can’t be while you’re actually writing.” 
  5. Do several drafts. “Do not imagine that the first draft of your book is the one that will be published. My latest novel, The Sins of the Father, was 14 drafts and took approximately 1000 hours.” 
  6. Be flexible. “If you think of something better half-way through the writing process, don’t be frightened to go back and incorporate it or even change the story completely.” 
  7. Seek opinions from professionals. “When you want an opinion on what you consider the finished script, seek it from a professional editor, an agent or someone you don’t know, through a third party. Do not seek an opinion from your wife, husband, partner, mistress or close friend. They will lie.” 
  8. Read the greats. “There is no substitute for reading great novelists, and instead of just enjoying their craft, think carefully about how they’ve achieved it. Do they spend pages on description, do they move the story on quickly, how do they make you turn the page? It’s all there in front of you if you look carefully, so at least when you try to do it, you have analysed how successful authors have managed it in the past.” 
  9. Stay fit. “If the body is a physical wreck – too much drinking, smoking, late nights – how can you expect the written word to be anything less than drunken, useless and tired?” 
  10. Don’t give up. “My first novel, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less, was turned down by 14 publishers, ended up with an advance of £3,000 and on first printing took a year to sell 3,000 copies. It is still extremely rare for a first book to be a best-seller.”

John Irving (b. March 2nd): “You’ve got to get obsessed and stay obsessed.”

2 Mar
irving3

pinterest.com/pin/39406565465762001/

John Irving, born 2 March 1942, is an American novelist and Academy Award-winning screenwriter. His novels include The World According to GarpA Widow for One YearThe Cider House Rules, and A Prayer for Owen Meany. Five of his novels have been adapted to film. He won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Cider House Rules.

Quotes on writing

  1. Half my life is an act of revision. 
  2. You’ve got to get obsessed and stay obsessed. 
  3. I’m old-fashioned, a storyteller. I’m not an analyst and I’m not an intellectual.
  4. The building of the architecture of a novel – the craft of it – is something I never tire of.
  5. I’ve always preferred writing in longhand. I’ve always written first drafts in longhand.
  6. I write very quickly; I rewrite very slowly. It takes me nearly as long to rewrite a book as it does to get the first draft.
  7. Writing a novel is actually searching for victims. As I write I keep looking for casualties. The stories uncover the casualties. 
  8. I am compulsive about writing, I need to do it the way I need sleep and exercise and food and sex; I can go without it for a while, but then I need it.
  9. The way you define yourself as a writer is that you write every time you have a free minute. If you didn’t behave that way you would never do anything.
  10. I don’t begin a novel or a screenplay until I know the ending. And I don’t mean only that I have to know what happens. I mean that I have to hear the actual sentences. I have to know what atmosphere the words convey. 
  11. When I was still in prep school – 14, 15 – I started keeping notebooks, journals. I started writing, almost like landscape drawing or life drawing. I never kept a diary, I never wrote about my day and what happened to me, but I described things. 
  12. I am not attracted to writers by style. What style do Dickens, Grass, and Vonnegut have in common? How silly! I am attracted to what makes them angry, what makes them passionate, what outrages them, what they applaud and find sympathetic in human beings and what they detest about human beings, too. They are writers of great emotional range.
  13. You bet I write disaster fiction. We have compiled a disastrous record on this planet, a record of stupidity and absurdity and self-abuse and self-aggrandizement and self-deception and pompousness and self-righteousness and cruelty and indifference beyond what any other species has demonstrated the capacity for, which is the capacity for all the above.
  14. Along the (writing) way accidents happen, detours get taken… But these are not “divine” accidents; I don’t believe in those. I believe you have constructive accidents en route through a novel only because you have mapped a clear way. If you have confidence that you have a clear direction to take, you always have confidence to explore other ways; if they prove to be mere digressions, you’ll recognize that and make the necessary revisions. The more you know about a book, the freer you can be to fool around. The less you know, the tighter you get.

Elizabeth George (b. February 26): “I have to know the killer…”

26 Feb
george

pinterest.com/pin/39406565465739058/

Elizabeth George, born 26 February 1949, is an American author of mystery novels set in Great Britain. 11 of her novels have been adapted for television by the BBC as The Inspector Lynley Mysteries.

Quotes on writing:

  1. It is the job of the novelist to touch the reader.
  2. I wish that I’d known back then that a mastery of process would lead to a product. Then I probably wouldn’t have found it so frightening to write.
  3. I find it both fascinating and disconcerting when I discover yet another person who believes that writing can’t be taught. Frankly, I don’t understand this point of view.
  4. I have to know the killer, the victim and the motive when I begin. Then I start to create the characters and see how the novel takes shape based on what these people are like.
  5. Essentially and most simply put, plot is what the characters do to deal with the situation they’re in. It’s a logical sequence of events that grow from an initial incident that alters the status quo of the characters.
  6. Plotting is difficult for me, and always has been. I do that before I actually start writing, but I always do characters, and the arc of the story, first… You can’t do anything without a story arc. Where is it going to begin, where will it end.
  7. Lots of people want to have written; they don’t want to write. In other words, they want to see their name on the front cover of a book and their grinning picture on the back. But this is what comes at the end of a job, not at the beginning.
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