“How To Write Good” Quotes

I recently read “How To Write Good” an e-book by John Vorhaus. The quotes I found most interesting are below. As always, if you liked the quotes, please buy the full book here.

Screen Shot 2013-02-24 at 1.59.37 PM“90 percent of everything everyone thinks is pretty much the same stuff, so the trick of reading other people’s minds is really just getting better at reading your own.” (KL 70-72)

“Choice is made. Don’t second guess. Move on.” (KL 80-81)

“To me, in this context, better is largely just faster. I consider myself a “better” writer when my process is more efficient, when I’m getting more writing done.” (KL 86-87)

“Whimsy says that any choice is a good choice. Whimsy explores ideas just for fun. Whimsy doesn’t care about broken bits of writing or storytelling. Or grammar. Or syntax. Or complete sentences. Whimsy plans to fix everything later. Whimsy, out of sheer whimsy, thinks of as many ways as it can to express whimsy. Whimsy knows there’s more than one path through story. Whimsy says what the fruck. (And whimsy makes fruck a word.)  Whimsy knows the secret of how to write good.” (KL 89-92)

“It’s so great to be a writer who doesn’t fear to be a fool.” (KL 105)

“All real writers are addicted to writing. ” (KL 136)

“The first goal of every writing project, for this completist writer at any rate, is to get the first draft done, and that won’t happen in the presence of fear.” (KL 142-143)

“Judge a sentence by this test only: Does it get you to the next one? If yes, keep writing. If no, fix what needs to be fixed and move on. But the thing is, again, move on. Get that first draft finished. Major revisions – real fixes – will come later, and that’s part of your active practice, too.” (KL 175-177)

“Keep giving them you until you is what they want.” (KL 181-182)

“The more comfortable you become with making those arbitrary choices – the ones that make you cringe and think, Jeez, they’ll never buy this! – the sooner those arbitrary choices become your voice.” (KL 184-185)

“Trust your choices – not that they’re good ones, necessarily, but that they’re yours.” (KL 219)

“As a writer you want to make choices that are easy and fun for you. You don’t want to make choices based on how you think your work will be received or what traffic some mythical market will bear.” (KL 219-221)

“When I find myself shining too long or too much, what I do is I take the win. I bask in the moment momentarily, then tell myself to get over myself and get back to work.” (KL 491-493)

“What happens when things go as planned? Nothing. The story stalls because emotions remain unchanged.” (KL 530)

“Once you see pivots as the substrate of story, and once you understand your story as merely a long string of emotional states changed by new information, you’ll find that you get less and less lost, and your stories have more and more drive.” (KL 532-533)

“Drive a story from action to emotion, emotion to action, action to emotion, and start getting good at that.” (KL 573)

“At the right time in the development process you would dress up Jack’s room, describe the furniture, the people you see, fill it up with detail. That time, though, is not now. Now it’s just action, emotion, action, emotion, action, emotion, until you get the hang of it.” (KL 575-577)

“Don’t be afraid to write stuff that some people hate; if people don’t get worked up one way or another, you’re never going to have any kind of career.” (KL 593)

“Your writing’s not good, your writing’s not bad, it’s just the writing you’re doing now.” (KL 604-605)

“Feel good about writing bad. It’s easy to do if you remember that your writing always serves the twin goals of advancing the current work and advancing your craft.” (KL 608-609)

“Never get down on yourself for a day of bad writing. Every day, every hour, every minute you spend writing, even the worst, builds craft.” (KL 610-611)

“None of it’s wasted. None of it. I’ve had bunches of broken stories that lay fallow until I got good enough to fix them.” (KL 662-663)

“Writer’s block takes place at the specific intersection of too much fear and not enough information.” (KL 698)

“If you say ouch, my feelings every time someone gives you bad news about your work, A) you’ll drive those people away and, 2) your work will cease to evolve.” (KL 813-814)

“Inappropriately large goals kill will and crush productivity. Appropriately sized goals offer the immediate reward of a job, well, done.” (KL 860-861)

“You’re a writer; it’s your job to tell people what to think.” (KL 897)

“A theme is a truth we believe in and want to promote, expressed as a call to action.” (KL 940)

“For 99 percent of the writing process, the best thing to do with the audience is ignore it, because contemplation of the audience takes you off the page.” (KL 951-952)

“A story is an arc of change from denial to acceptance of the theme.” (KL 969-970)

“It’s easy as Mad Libs if you think about it. The theme of the story is [insert theme]. The hero is [insert name]. The story is [name learns to theme].” (KL 984-985)

“Rock bands figured it out long before writers. Just because they were on their own label didn’t mean they sucked. It meant they’d found a way around a clumsy, cumbersome distribution system that no longer met their needs.” (KL 1020-1021)

“More often than not, rules are made by rule-makers for the benefit of rule-makers. If those rules don’t benefit us, we don’t have to follow ‘em.” (KL 1023-1024)

If you liked the quotes, please buy the book here.

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