Monday, August 5, 2013

Writing Tips - Fortune Cookie Writing Wisdom

I opened a fortune cookie recently and it was truly meant to be. The message was for writers.

It read "Four basic premises of writing: clarity, brevity, simplicity, and humanity." 

How much more succinct can you get than that?

Let's take this little lesson and expand it a bit, okay?

Author after author has spouted something similar to this quote at one time or another.

Why don't we break the quote down and find our pearls of wisdom about writing.

George Orwell said, "Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an every day English equivalent."

Annie Proulx said, "Rewrite and edit until you achieve the most felicitous phrase/sentence/paragraph/page/story/chapter."

Anton Chekhov said, "Don't tell me the moon is shining, show me the glint of light on broken glass."

Ina Yalof said, "Be sure to use a reasonable balance of dialogue and narrative."

Strunk & White in their 11 Composition Principles state, "Omit needless words."

George Orwell said, "Never use a long word where a short one will do."

Elmore Leonard said, "Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip."

Stephen King said, "Description begins in the writer's imagination , but should finish in the reader's."

Elmore Leonard said, "Avoid detailed descriptions of characters."

Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd said, "Use words wantonly and you disappear before your own eyes. Use them well and you create yourself."

C.S. Lewis said, "Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say 'infinitely' when you mean 'very,' otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite."

Stephen King said, "I think locale and texture are much more important to the reader's sense of actually being in the story than any physical description of the players. Nor do I think that physical description should be a shortcut to character. So, spare me, if you please, the hero's sharply intelligent blue eyes and outthrust determined chin; likewise the heroine's arrogant cheekbones. This sort of thing is bad technique and lazy writing, the equivalent of all those tiresome adverbs."

P.D. James said, "Open your mind to new experiences, particularly to the study of other people. Nothing that happens to a writer -- however happy, however tragic -- is ever wasted."

Neil Gaiman said, ""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 as you can."

Anne Sullivan Macy said, "Keep on beginning and failing. Each time you fail, start all over again and you will grow stronger until you have accomplished a purpose ... not the one you began with perhaps, but one you'll be glad to remember."

Desiderious Erasmus said, "The desire to write grows with writing."

William Sansom said, "A writer lives, at best, in a state of astonishment. Beneath any feeling he has of the good or the evil of the world lies a deeper one of wonder at it all. To transmit that feeling, he writes."

There you have it. Fortune Cookie Writing Wisdom. Do you know of any quotes or have one of your own that would belong here?


  1. Momentum: Never put off until tomorrow what you can write today.

  2. These are such great quotes! And great advice overall. Love it.

    1. Hi Jennifer. Thanks for visiting. I'm glad you liked the quotes.

  3. That's amazing you lucked up on a fortune cookie specifically for you! Those four points are right on! Nice quotes too. Andrea visiting from SITS.

    1. It really was a great coincidence to get a fortune specifically for a writer. It was meant to be. Thanks for visiting.

  4. Oh, brevity. That one trips me up every time. Whew! Love the quotations you shared! --Lisa

  5. Lisa, you crack me up. Thanks for visiting. Have a blessed day!


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