“I always mention Flaubert’s advice to young Guy de Maupassant: Get black on white. That is, start writing. What you write can always be changed later, sharpened, deepened, or even thrown away. But nothing will emerge if the words are locked within your skull. Start.”
Source: Hamill’s response to the question, “What is the best piece of advice you would give a writer just starting out?” In an interview conducted by Tom Callahan, published in the December 2011 issue of The Writer.
“‘Your father told me how he and Anna were saved by the man whose life Max saved on the train in the Great War. How extraordinary. But you know, everybody who survived has an extraordinary story. Otherwise, he’d be dead.’”
Spoken by the character of “Herr Andreas Kellerman,” in Martin Fletcher’s new novel, The List. Emphasis added.
This week–marking the anniversary of the Kristallnacht–I’m not quoting a writer on writing or citing something from an interview. I’m taking something directly from Martin Fletcher’s new novel. For my full review of The List, please click here.
Responding to an interview question (“Are there a lot of plotless stories in your [Boston University M.F.A.] program?”), Leslie Epstein said:
When they enter the program, but not when they leave. I’m always stressing these things. Plot and dialogue. I say just sit your people down at a dinner table and have them start talking. One of the main things: keep out of people’s heads. Do not write like Virginia Woolf if you want to get through this year. What people do and what they say is, for the most part, all we need to know. No dreams, no memories, no photographs. Nor wind chimes. Nor moonlight. Show us what people do an d say. Of course every one of these rules is meant to be broken, but you have to justify breaking them.
What do you think?
(This snippet comes from an interview, conducted by Spencer Wise, in the latest issue of The Southeast Review. The print copy is one of the reasons I sign up for SER‘s writing regimens.)
“And then, while writing, a new and thrilling relationship would spring up under the drive emotion, coalescing and telescoping alien facts into a known and felt truth. That was the deep fun of the job; to feel within my body that I was pushing out to new areas of feeling, strange landmarks of emotion.”
Source: Another lovely quotation received through the The Southeast Review Writing Regimen.
“Fiction is a lie, and good fiction is the truth inside the lie.”
Source: As I noted last week, I’m currently enjoying the latest Southeast Review Writing Regimen, and this quotation was included in one of the regimen emails.