Top 5 Quotes on the Craft of Writing
As the publisher of Writer’s Digest, I’ve had the honor of speaking with hundreds of exceptional authors about writing and publishing. And I’ve been lucky enough to publish some of them. This is particularly gratifying because I love books on the craft and business of writing.
In fact, there’s an abundance of great instruction available. But where to begin? Below you’ll find a list of my favorite writing quotes from 2012 (plus two bonus quotes, just because I like them so much). I think they cut to the heart of what makes writing a joy as well as a challenge.
Writing Quote #1. “Perhaps the most repeated advice in the history of creative writing workshops is ‘Write what you know.’ For writers who have a talent for negotiating between the demands of facts and the demands of the imagination, this may be valid advice. But for most of us, I believe, writing what we know can only result in nonfiction, whether thickly or thinly disguised. This is why Graham Greene suggested that a good memory was incompatible with good fiction writing. ‘All good novelists have bad memories,’ he said. As Robert Olen Butler explains, ‘What you remember comes out as journalism. What you forget goes into the compost of the imagination.’”
– On Writing Fiction by David Jauss
Writing Quote #2. “The more intently you seek out story ideas, the likelier you will find them and know what to do with the ideas that you encounter — that is the most important lesson to learn about getting ideas for stories. The difference between a non-writer and a writer is the difference between one who is content to harbor traditional ideas and beliefs and one who is always seeking new ideas, new possibilities for expanding and enriching the human experience.”
– Where Do You Get Your Ideas by Fred White
Writing Quote #3. “Writing is an act of hope. It is a means of carving order from chaos, of challenging one’s own beliefs and assumptions, of facing the world with eyes and heart wide open. Through writing, we declare a personal identity amid faceless anonymity. We find purpose and beauty and meaning even when the rational mind argues that none of these exist.”
– The Writer’s Idea Book, 10th Anniversary Edition by Jack Heffron
Writing Quote #4. “You dream of writing the Great American Novel, but not because of the status or money it will bring. Having surrendered the pursuit of greatness, you stay in the now, writing one word in one scene on one page at a time, creating prose that works for the greatest good of the story.”
– The Plot Whisperer by Martha Alderson
Writing Quote #5. “A story is only formulaic if you allow it to be. It has nothing to do with abiding by the principles of solid storytelling and the handful of elements, parts, and milestones that comprise it.”
– Story Engineering by Larry Brooks
Bonus Quote #1:
“Supporting players should serve one of two purposes in a story. They either help or hinder the main character. They are allies or irritants. If they aren’t one or the other, what are they doing in the story except taking up space?”
– Revision and Self-Editing for Publication, 2nd Edition, by James Scott Bell
Bonus Quote #2:
“A great story is life, with the dull parts taken out.”
– Alfred Hitchcock
Share your favorite quote on the craft of writing with us!