Musings of the masters…


Leo Tolstoy at the time of writing ‘A confession and other spiritual writings.’

It seems that a masterpiece does not spring fully-formed from the mind of a great writer. Far from it, in fact—which is excellent news for those of us with sadly limp first drafts. Aspiring writers, take heart from the following revelations:

“There is no such thing as good writing. There is only good rewriting.”– Harry Shaw
“Books are not written–they’re rewritten.”– Michael Crichton
“Good writing is essentially rewriting.”– Roald Dahl
“I have never thought of myself as a good writer. . . . But I’m one of the world’s great rewriters.” – James Michener
“I have rewritten — often several times — every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers.” – Vladimir Nabokov
“I can’t understand how anyone can write without rewriting everything over and over again.”
– Leo Tolstoy
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Tips for aspiring writers from F. Scott Fitzgerald


1. Start by taking notes.
Make a habit of recording stray thoughts and observations in notebooks.
2. Make a detailed outline of your story.
Start with a comprehensive and detailed outlined of your work.
3. Don’t describe your work-in-progress to anyone.
Fitzgerald believed that If you spoke about your work you “seemed to lose some of it. It never quite belongs to you so much again.”
4. Create people, not types.
Fitzgerald explains the principle:
Begin with an individual, and before you know it you find that you have created a type; begin with a type, and you find that you have created–nothing.
5. Use familiar words.
6. Use verbs, not adjectives, to keep your sentences moving.
Fitzgerald explains: all fine prose is based on the verbs carrying the sentences. They make sentences move.
7. Be ruthless.
Fitzgerald warns about the danger of becoming too attached to something you’ve written. Keep an objective eye on the whole piece, he says, and if something isn’t working get rid of it.


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