On Writing in America ~ Christopher Hitchens

From an interview with Charlie Rose, August 2010.

If you show any promise as a writer in Britain, in London — that’s fine, and people will give you work, and so forth — but you keep feeling all the time you’re having to pass through a series of tests and hoops — “He’s quite promising,” and so forth.

You can die of that kind of encouragement.

Where in America if you are willing to take the chance and say, “Here I am. Try this,” you don’t feel you’re having to go through these stages of evolution; maturing in the cask like a fine old vintage that in the end goes sour before it’s ripe.

8 Rules for Writing Fiction ~ Kurt Vonnegut

  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a sadist. Now matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

Vonnegut, Kurt Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons 1999.

Finish Your Novel in 4 Simple Steps

There is no such thing as great writing, only great editing. Short, effective article on how to move quickly to the editing phase.

Finish Your Novel in 4 Simple Steps.