"I don't have much time for a playwright that can't write a book, because I don't think they can. A play is a piece of cake to write, it you can write dialogue, and you can plot. They get much lauded, everyone from Tennesse Williams to Pinter and Stoppard. I'd like to see them write a novel. They couldn't in my opinion."
"I've never had a short story published. So, in a way, I didn't really achieve my ambition. In that sense I'm still a failure."
FORD MADOX FORD
"When in doubt, cut."
PLINY THE YOUNGER
"Too much polishing weakens rather than improves a work."
"An even battle is more fun to watch."
"The first person you should think of pleasing, in writing a book, is yourself."
"Most authors would consider it undesirable to approach a publisher in a dirty incoherent condition. But that is, in effect, what they do when they submit a dirty and dilapidated manuscript."
"First, find out what the hero wants and then just follow him/her."
"What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure."
"No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft."
To spice the short replies to his fan mail he would often include a little poem. This is just one of many:
'Dear children far across the sea,
How nice of you to write to me;
I love to hear the things you say,
When you are miles and miles away.
All children, and I think I'm right,
Are nicer when they're out of sight.'
"People write to me from all over the world and I say to them: Sit down, and write a story about what you know. If you are good at it, we'll all read it. It doesn't matter where you are or what you are doing, a good story-teller just tells a story. Kane and Abel couldn't be more simple,"
"If you're going to write, don't pretend to write down. It's going to be the best that you can do, and it's the fact that it's the best that you can do that kills you,"
"Know the story - as much of the story as you can possibly know if not the whole story - before you commit yourself to the first paragraph. Know the story - the whole story if possible - before you fall in love with your first sentence, not to mention your first chapter. If you don't know the story before you begin, what kind of storyteller are you? Just an ordinary kind, just a mediocre kind, making it up as you go along like a common liar,"
"Make 'em laugh; make 'em cry; make 'em wait,"
"Stay with what it is and it will give you everything that isn't. From this wooden table I am learning on, I can build a whole world of fiction,"
"Get on with it. There are people who 'talk book', and there are people who 'write book': talking writers, and writing writers,"
"Asking a writer what he thinks about critics, is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs,"
"The title of the novel is part of the text, the first part of it, in fact, that we encounter - and therefore has considerable power to attract and condition the reader's attention,"
"I have never written for more than half an hour in my life. Writing to me only occupies a teeny wee bit of my life. And to be truthful, I hate writing. I wouldn't like the idea of writing all day at all,"
"If a writer knows something, even if he doesn't write it, it is present in his work,"
"If you have a skeleton in your cupboard, take it out and dance with it,"
"If a publisher declines your manuscript, remember it is merely the decision of one fallible human being, try another,"
"If you really want to achieve greatness, you have to keep challenging yourself. You have to keep going back into yourself,"
"What all of us must do is get an idea that excites US and then write the hell out of it. Write it as well as you know how. And if you hit a nerve, and it's true, then you have a chance,"
"As a writer, you're rejected so often that you have to develop a resilience. So when I'm down it rarely lasts...I search around until I find something to get excited about,"
"Do they keep throwing the book at Jeffrey Archer as an act of revenge for his lousy novels?"
"You wrote too fast. You're scared. Slow down. You shouldn't write a short story in less than two months,"
"The beginning is the 'want', the middle the 'conflict' and the end is the 'resolution',"
'Gin and water is the source of all my inspiration.'
'Whisky and beer for fools; absinthe for poets.'
'Really, I can't imagine the drug scene. My generation are drinkers and smokers; I wouldn't stick a needle in myself for a hatful of golden guineas.'
'It is splendid to be a great writer, to put men into the frying pan of your words and make them pop like chestnuts.'
'No iron can stab the heart with such force as a full stop put just at the right place.'
'It's almost a month now, and I've scarcely finished a single page.'
Martial AD C.40-C.104: Epigrammata,tr. James Michie
'All experience is good for writers - except for physical pain.'
'If you are pointing out one of the things a story is about, then you are very probably right; if you are pointing out the only thing a story is about you are very probably wrong - even if you're the author.
'I never had any doubts about my abilities. I knew I could write. I just had to figure out how to eat while doing this.'
'There's no money in poetry, but then there's no poetry in money either.'
'Stories may well be lies, but they are good lies that say true things, and which can sometimes pay the rent.'
'It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.'