"You don’t actually have to write anything until you’ve thought it out. This is an enormous relief, and you can sit there searching for the point at which the story becomes a toboggan and starts to slide."
"You should never read just for “enjoyment.” Read to make yourself smarter! Less judgmental. More apt to understand your friends’ insane behavior, or better yet, your own. Pick “hard books.” Ones you have to concentrate on while reading. And for god’s sake, don’t let me ever hear you say, “I can’t read fiction. I only have time for the truth.” Fiction is the truth, fool! Ever hear of “literature”? That means fiction, too, stupid."
"The more closely the author thinks of why he wrote, the more he comes to regard his imagination as a kind of self-generating cement which glued his facts together, and his emotions as a kind of dark and obscure designer of those facts. Reluctantly, he comes to the conclusion that to account for his book is to account for his life."
"The writer works on the inside and the critic works on the outside. I don’t know what it looks like on the outside, sometimes. It’s not that I’m not interested—it’s not where I live. I live inside the story."
"There is no such thing as a perfect book or a perfect story.
Every book in every library on this planet has something wrong with it. It could be something tiny. Maybe a minor character isn’t well drawn. Maybe a description goes on too long. Maybe the dialogue is stiff in one spot. There’s something wrong with every single one.
No matter how hard we writers try, we will never achieve perfection.
Perfection doesn’t mater No two readers would agree on whether our book was perfect anyway. Besides, readers care less about perfection and more about connection, getting caught up in a story, caring about the characters."
"Never open your story with a character thinking, I advise my students. As a further precaution, don’t put a character in a room alone – create a friend, a bystander, a genie, for God’s sake, any sentient creature with whom your main character can converse, perhaps argue or, better yet, engage in some action. If a person is out and doing, it’s more likely that something interesting might happen to her or him. Shut up in a room with only his thoughts for company … well, that way lies fictional disaster."
"Writing is hard work. A clear sentence is no accident. Very few sentences come out right the first time, or even the third time. Remember this in moments of despair. If you find that writing is hard, it’s because it is hard. It’s one of the hardest things that people do."
"The best writers practice writing every day, even when they haven’t got a story to tell or don’t feel at all inspired. You need to exercise your writing “muscles” in the same way you would train to play football or practice the piano before a performance."
"Writers shouldn’t underestimate the difficulty of what they’re doing, and they should treat it with great seriousness. You’re doing something that really matters, you’re telling stories that have an impact on other people and on the culture. You should tell the best stories you can possibly tell and put everything you’ve got into it."