Skip to Content
Author's profile photo Jonathan Becher

Writing Tips from Famous Authors

Possibly because my mantra is ‘words matter’, I frequently get asked for tips on better writing. For years, I quoted George Orwell who provided great advice on how to be simple and clear, including my favorite:

If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

In the spirit of great writing advice from famous authors, here are more of my favorite quotes:

“If writing seems hard, it’s because it is hard. It’s one of the hardest things people do.”
William Zinsser

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
Stephen King

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”
Mark Twain

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
Anton Chekhov

“Every sentence must do one of two things – reveal character or advance the action.” (9 more)
Kurt Vonnegut

“I’m always pretending that I’m sitting across from somebody.  I’m telling them a story, and I don’t want them to get up until it’s finished.”
James Patterson

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night.  You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
E. L. Doctorow

“Easy reading is damn hard writing.”
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Of course, if none of the above helps, there’s always this advice from Ernest Hemingway:

Write drunk, edit sober.

While it may not improve your writing, it’s probably more fun.

This blog was originally posted on Manage By Walking Around.

Follow me on twitter @jbecher.

Assigned Tags

      You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.
      Author's profile photo Tom Van Doorslaer
      Tom Van Doorslaer

      Some great tips in there. Especially the one about "storytelling".

      Thanks for the quotes. I'm pretty sure they'll come in handy.

      Author's profile photo Tim Clark
      Tim Clark

      Great tips from a great mix of writers. I like the one from William Zinsser. Writing IS hard work and to some extent, under appreciated.