Blogger: Mary Keeley
When you Google books on writing, you’ll see a plethora of excellent books by writing experts. It can be overwhelming. How can writers absorb all those volumes at the same time they’re being encouraged to write, write, and write some more in order to improve? All in the midst of living life. Sometimes mulling over a few cogent quotes from experts can lift the fog and prompt a breakthrough for a writer.
I’ve chosen the following excerpts because they apply to both fiction and nonfiction writing.
William Strunk, Jr. says this in his must-have book on writing, The Elements of Style, co-authored with E. B. White:
…when a sentence is made stronger, it usually becomes shorter. Thus brevity is a byproduct of vigor.
The writer’s vigor. He also says this:
The surest way to arouse and hold the attention of the reader is by being specific, definitive, and concrete. The greatest writers—Homer, Dante, Shakespeare—are effective largely because they deal in particulars and report the details that matter. Their words call up pictures.
And this one. Although I haven’t read Samuel Delany’s book, About Writing: Seven Essays, Four Letters, & Five Interviews, the distinction he makes in this quote cuts to the chase:
Talented writing makes things happen in the reader’s mind—vividly, forcefully—that good writing, which stops with clarity and logic, doesn’t.
These short sound bytes are themselves examples of the lessons they teach. The cases for tight prose, perfectly chosen words, and the importance of being specific and concrete are communicated in a total of 82 words, making them easy to remember. Post these and others that speak to your writing challenges at your workspace for quick reminders.
Let’s talk. What is it about these quotes that make them cogent and memorable? How are they guiding you today? Do you recall a sound byte from a book on writing that jumped off the page at you? What was it, and why was it relevant to you?
These sound bytes on writing well speak volumes. Click to Tweet.