Cover image for Advice to writers : a compendium of quotes, anecdotes, and writerly wisdom from a dazzling array of literary lights
Advice to writers : a compendium of quotes, anecdotes, and writerly wisdom from a dazzling array of literary lights
Winokur, Jon.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Pantheon Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
xi, 227 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library PN165 .A385 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Here from more than four hundred of the world's most celebrated writers and booksmiths--from Euripides and Eudora Welty to Cynthia Ozick and P. J. O'Rourke--is a treasury of useful advice on the world and work of writing. Compiled by the author of The Rich Are Different and the best-selling Portable Curmudgeon, Advice to Writers includes priceless counsel on subjects ranging from writer's block and writing dialogue to dealing with agents and editors and appearing on television; from work habits and procrastination rituals to drinking on the job; from success, money, and fame to the lack of one or all of them. Flaubert, Twain, and Kipling impart their venerable wisdom. Red Smith tells us that "writing is easy. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein." Annie Dillard, David Guterson, and Maureen Dowd offer practical suggestions. David Remnick describes the ideal editor. A genre's-eye view comes from science-fiction master Harlan Ellison and sportswriter Frank Deford. Provocative insights come from David Mamet, Russell Banks, and Joyce Carol Oates. Clever and sagacious, pragmatic and heartening, this is an essential volume for both the aspiring writer and the devoted reader.



On agents: "Choose your agent as carefully as you would choose your accountant or lawyer. Or dentist." -- Russell Banks On characters: "The characters have their own lives and their own logic, and you have to act accordingly." -- Isaac Bashevis Singer On colleagues: "Artists never thrive in colonies. Ants do. What the budding artist needs is the privilege of wrestling with his problems in solitude -- and now and the a piece of red meat." -- Henry Miller On critics and criticism: "It is advantageous to an author that his book should be attacked as well as praised. Fame is a shuttlecock. If it be struck at only one end of the room, it will soon fall to the ground. To keep it up, it must be struck at both ends." -- Samuel Johnson On dialogue: "Dialogue in fiction should be reserved for the culminating moments and regarded as the spray into which the great wave of narrative breaks in curving toward the watcher on the shore." -- Edith Wharton On discouragement: "Writing is easy. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein." -- Red Smith On drink: "First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you." -- F. Scott Fitzgerald On editors and editing: "Bow down before them. They know what they are doing." -- Quentin Crisp On grammar and usage: "Usage is the only test. I prefer a phrase that is easy and unaffected to a phrase that is grammatical." -- W. Somerset Maugham Excerpted from Advice to Writers: A Compendium of Quotes, Anecdotes and Writerly Wisdom from a Dazzling Array of Literary Lights by Jon Winokur All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Introductionp. ix
Author's Notep. xi
Agentsp. 3
Charactersp. 6
Colleaguesp. 13
Critics and Criticismp. 16
Dialoguep. 20
Discouragementp. 23
Drinkp. 30
Editors and Editingp. 33
Encouragementp. 44
Genresp. 57
Grammar and Usagep. 74
Materialp. 82
Moneyp. 87
Occupational Hazardsp. 90
Plagiarismp. 94
Plotp. 96
Prizesp. 99
Processp. 102
Publicity and Promotionp. 110
Publishers and Publishingp. 116
Punctuationp. 120
Qualifications and Requirementsp. 123
The Readerp. 133
Readingp. 139
Rules and Commandmentsp. 144
The Secretp. 149
Stylep. 156
Success and Failurep. 162
Techniquep. 165
Tricks of the Tradep. 168
Why You Writep. 176
Wordsp. 179
Work Habitsp. 186
Writer's Blockp. 190
The Writer's Lifep. 199
Writing Advicep. 202
Selected Bibliographyp. 207
Permissions Acknowledgmentsp. 212
Indexp. 213

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