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Quotes | Bob Thurber on Writing

Bob Thurber (Paperboy: A Dysfunctional Novel; Nothing but Trouble), one of the finest writers in the English language (and a personal acquaintance), has been a literary mentor of mine for over fifteen years now. I recently stumbled across some more sage writing advice from him over on his Goodreads page.

“Remember . . . keystrokes are hammer taps. Get words on paper. Don’t worry about connections, character or plot. Work for an hour. Promise yourself an hour. Do nothing else but move your fingers. Make coarse shapes. Follow any emotion that pops up but never impose emotion, never fake it, and don’t make up your mind or your heart ahead of time. Understand you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s why you’re here. Rough it out. Anything goes. You can decide later what any piece of text looks like, what it might mean. Don’t stop. Don’t question. Don’t quit. Don’t stop to read what you wrote. Move your fingers. Your mind will have no other option but to keep up. Remember that writer’s block is merely the cold marble waiting for the chisel to heat up.” ― Bob Thurber

“The first thing I check once I’m inside a story is the emotional weather. Is there a storm coming? What’s the temperature, and how powerful are the winds? The difference between walking on water and sliding one’s ass across slick ice is only a matter of degree.” ― Bob Thurber

He’s right, of course. On both topics. Thurber has been (and will continue to be) a frequent topic on this here blog. Historically he’s been a major influence on my short story prose, particularly my microfiction, which I really need to get back to myself. Reading his words always gets the gears turning in my head.

 

 

 

 

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Quote | Clive Barker on Characters

This week I’ve found a poignant quote from another writer I’ve looked up to since I started writing in the mid-90s, someone’s whose imagination and vision I greatly admire. Like Anne Rice from a few weeks back, Clive Barker is another fellow Libra. This quote comes from an old interview I stumbled across that was conducted in 1991 by W.C. Stroby for Writer’s Digest.

WD: When the story ideas begin to get very bizarre or complex, what can you do to make sure you don’t lose that sort of emotional under-pinning?
BARKER: The first thing is you’ve got to believe in the characters. You’ve got to be thinking with the characters and you’ve got to be within their skins. If you’re within their skins then their response to any situation, however bizarre it is, is going to be based upon your sense of them. Any writer’s belief in his or her characters – or the situations in which the characters find themselves – is central to his ability to convince the audience.

As a writer, you have to therefore always try to trip yourself up, look for the places where you’ve done something which was conve-nient rather than true. Convenient because sometimes characters can do things which are convenient to plotting, you know? But very often you realize “This character is not going to do that. This character is going to do X rather than Y.” And sometimes that can be a pain in the ass, but it’s worth the trouble if it’s going to convince the reader of the truth of the situation.


Clive Barker

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Writing Advice from Neil Gaiman

This has made the rounds to various web places over the years, most notably in an article at The Guardian.

8 Rules for Writers by Neil Gaiman

1 Write.

2 Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.

3 Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.

4 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.

5 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.

6 Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.

7 Laugh at your own jokes.

8 The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.


Neil Gaiman

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Quote: Anne Rice on Being Aware of the Reader

A double-shot of Mrs. Rice today. Not long after posting an older quote from her earlier today regarding being a writer, I stumbled across this quote from her on her Facebook page today.

“For me the reader is all important. I’m really a popular writer; I believe in being for the people — that’s what popular means. I want an eight-year-old to be able to understand my book completely. If I use a four syllable word, I want that eight-year-old to be able to understand it in context. So I’m always aware of the reader. You know, somebody gave me a wonderful piece of advise 35 years ago, and it was: make things easy for the reader; don’t make it difficult. I’m always trying to make it easy for the reader to get what I’m trying to say. I’m always inviting the reader into my world.” — Anne Rice

It fits pretty much in line with how I approach my writing as well. I write with an audience in mind.

As I always say, writing is a performance art. Like the visual arts, writing is created to be received by an audience, whether that’s the masses or an audience of one. Rarely is it ever created for an audience of none, at least not if it’s put into a public forum or venue of some sort.

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Quote: Anne Rice on Being a Writer

Anne Rice is one of those authors whose fiction work I don’t read much of, but yet I read a great deal of interviews, advice pieces and watch videos of her talking. She’s always so very sharp, deep-thinking and astute. Like Clive Barker, she’s a fellow Libra too. Anyway, this bit of writerly advice is so basic yet so on-point, that it’s undeniably a sage piece of wisdom.

“If you want to be a writer, write. Write and write and write. If you stop, start again. Save everything that you write. If you feel blocked, write through it until you feel your creative juices flowing again. Write. Writing is what makes a writer, nothing more and nothing less.” — Anne Rice

I definitely keep everything, going all the way back to 1989’s “Apocalyptic City” that I wrote for a creative writing class. And I have a Write-or-Flight initiative I’ve been trying to comply with. I mean, I certainly write as well as I can EVERY day. Unfortunately that’s not fiction writing everyday. Need to change that. Fifteen, twenty years ago this was not a problem (bachelor life).

Working on my personal library RUCKERPEDIA the the past two weeks has really reinvigorated my muse. It can only help when you read your previously written words — the good ones — and find yourself inspired by them.

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Quotes | Stephen King – On Writing

In honor of Stephen “Uncle Stevie” King’s birthday this week (Sept 21st) I am going to forego our regularly scheduled programming in favor of five poignant quotes from Mr. King’s book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft that I bookmarked with lots of Post-it Notes so many years ago. By the way, this isn’t the first time Uncle Stevie’s been quoted here recently.


 

“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”

 

“Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.”

 

“It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.”

 

“Put your vocabulary on the top shelf of your toolbox, and don’t make any conscious effort to improve it. (You’ll be doing that as you read, of course … but that comes later.) One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you’re maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones. This is like dressing up a household pet in evening clothes. The pet is embarrassed and the person who committed this act of premeditated cuteness should be even more embarrassed.

“I’m not trying to get you to talk dirty, only plain and direct. Remember that the basic rule of vocabulary is use the first word that comes to your mind, if it is appropriate and colorful. If you hesitate and cogitate, you will come up with another word—of course you will, there’s always another word—but it probably won’t be as good as your first one, or as close to what you really mean.”

 

“Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference.”

 


Yes, I’m filing this a bit late. It’s my birthday weekend, so I’ve taken it easy today (I have Monday off from work as well). I had originally intended to write and post a Ruckin’ With You column for this week, but alas. I’ll either produce it in a couple of days, or just wait until later in the week.  I also need to do a Workbook update (I skipped the August-into-September one). At any rate, I do remain committed to composing a blog entry that uncorks my headspace on a weekly basis, though.

So until next time, keep reading, keep writing, keep rocking.

-BLR

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Quotes Writer Writing

Quote: Dean Koontz on Writing Novels

This week’s writer-ly quote is another analogy, and like last week’s Stephen King quote, this one compares physical activities . . .

Writing a novel is a lot like making love, but it’s also like having a tooth pulled. Pleasure and pain. Sometimes it’s like making love while having a tooth pulled.