So you can read my books

Monday, August 8, 2011



1.) Elmore Leonard :

A. 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.

B. Avoid prologues: they can be ­annoying, especially a prologue ­following an introduction that comes after a foreword.

C. My most important rule is one that sums up my feelings: if it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

2.) Neil Gamain :

A. Finish what you're writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.

B. Put it aside. Read it pretending you've never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.

C. Remember: when people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

3.) Roddy Doyle :

A. Do not place a photograph of your ­favorite author on your desk, especially if the author is one of the famous ones who committed suicide.

B. Regard every new page as a small triumph.

C. Do spend a few minutes a day working on the cover biog – "He divides his time between Kabul and Tierra del Fuego." But then get back to work.

4.) Margaret Atwood :

A.) Hold the reader's attention.

(This is likely to work better if you can hold your own.)

But you don't know who the reader is, so it's like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark. What ­fascinates X will bore the pants off Z.

B.) There's no free lunch. Writing is work. It's also gambling. You don't get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but ­essentially you're on your own. ­Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don't whine.

C.) Don't sit down in the middle of the woods. If you're lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page.

5.) Helen Dunmore:

A. Finish the day's writing when you still want to continue.

B. Listen to what you have written. A dud rhythm in a passage of dialogue may show that you don't yet understand the characters well enough to write in their voices.

C. Reread, rewrite, reread, rewrite some more. If it still doesn't work, throw it away. It's a nice feeling, and you don't want to be cluttered with the corpses of poems and stories which have everything in them except the life they need.


  1. I love this, its commen sense provided by those in the know. I especially like "stop writing when you still want to continue." That is especially true, I think of the nights when my eyes are falling out of my head, I'm exhausted but still apparently inspired, and I just keep gooooooooing, then the next day upon re-reading: gibberish.

  2. Flesh out the parts of your story you are passionate about, to overshadow the uninteresting or 'filler' parts.

  3. Thanks so much for putting all this together! Fantastic advice from people in the know.

  4. Thanks so much for putting all this together! Fantastic advice from people in the know.

  5. I love these. Thanks for the reminder. Particularly 'finish what you're writing'.

    I'm sticking a post-it to my computer :)

  6. Tripping Tipsy :
    Ernest Hemingway also had the same advise. Glad you liked my little gleaning of great minds.

    Walter :
    Elmore Leonard would say to edit away those filler parts I bet! Good to see you here.

    Talli :
    I'm glad to see you visit and stopping to chat. Thanks for liking my little bits of wisdom from those who made it in publishing.

    Sarah :
    Can't beat advise from Neil Gaiman, and that's for sure. I'm happy you found something useful. Thanks for visiting.,

    Teresa :
    Thanks for liking my little post. Please come again, Roland

  7. I hated having to ace my prologues. I liked them so much. After that it became so much easier to go through my work and toss useless writing out. These are all wonderful rules to follow. I guess the best way to make them a permanent part of our writing is just to practice, practice, practice. :) You seem to have amassed tons of knowledge in regards to great writing...must derive from all the constant ghost channeling.

  8. These are wonderful quotes and make me want to go write.

  9.'s as if you're all gathered around the watering hole, telling war stories and gleaning secrets ;)

    Well done, Roland, and just wanted you to know that I finally ventured over to Amazon and left some fond words for your "Bear" pal. It will hopefully post in a day or two.

    My apologies for it taking so long!

    Have a good week, my friend.


  10. Laila :
    I have prologues and epilogues in my two historical fantasies, but I thought they gave a depth and a scope to McCord's adventures in 1853, having them told to William Faulkner in 1923 by McCord himself in his haunted jazz club. Like Neil Gaiman says : "If it works for you, then, by all means, break the rules!"

    Karen G :
    Me, too! Now, if I could only write as well as Neil Gaiman!

    Elliot :
    Hibbs wants to give you a great big bear hug, but I convinced him that a hug from a grown grizzly might be a bit much! Thanks, my friend. Your entires are already in the drawing. Roland