Monday Morning Writing Advice: Timely Quotes from Famous Authors

 The Southern Ring Nebula
NGC 3132: The Southern Ring Nebula
Image Credit: Hubble Legacy Archive, ESA, NASA; Processing – Donald Waid

Encountering Written Advice

More often than not successful writers, tend to make mostly practical suggestions to newbie writers. Commonly these witticisms contain such mundane advice as don’t use too many adverbs or leave out such over-used words as very, far out or nowadays. Fortunately, every now and then, a lucky writer sneaks in a tidbit of literary comment that transcends these basic grammatical axioms. For example, Stephen King’s classic line, “kill your darlings” has been most likely encountered by just about every practitioner of the English language on at least several occasions.

Following are some of my favorite comments by writers. You have probably heard of most of these guys and gals , but you may not be aware of their cherished little snippets of words. Hopefully, at least a few of these timely lines of wisdom will sink into your brain and create a microburst of energy within your gray matter.

neptunetriton_voyager_960
Crescent Neptune and Triton
Image Credit: Voyager 2, NASA

The List

    1. Start as close to the end as possible. by Kurt Vonnegut

    2. Employ an unreliable narrator, preferably one who doesn’t know he is insane and has no recollection of such events as digging into a grave to rip out the teeth of his recently departed lover. by Edgar Allan Poe (note: this comment has been falsely attributed to Edgar Allan Poe, but still ranks as good advice)

    3. Let the audience add up two plus two. They’ll love you forever. by Ernst Lubitsch, screenwriter

    4. Grab ‘em by the throat and never let ‘em go. by Billy Wilder, screenwriter

    5. It is always prudent to remember that one is not Tolstoy or Dickens. by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd

    6. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. by George Orwell

    7. Try never get drunk outside yr own house by Jack Kerouac

    8. Remember there is no such thing as nonsense. By Andrew Motion

Saturn Hurricane
Saturn Hurricane
Image Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA

In Conclusion

Every one’s probably heard of this Elmore Leornard quote, but I’ll include it anyway….Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

And last but not least! Ignore all proferred rules and create your own, suitable for what you want to say. by Michael Moorcock

A Lesson In Screenwriting

Movie Poster for the Hangover
Movie Poster for the Hangover

Why anyone would become a screenwriter is beyond me. The competition is cutthroat, the clients have too much money and it seems like insiders always have the upper hand. The fact that a few free-spirited and successful screenwriters even exist within the politics and shenanigans of Tinseltown is sheer testimony to human perseverance and the strength of spirit.

One recent film (2009) which suggests that nespotism and in-fighting may not be as bad among Hollywood writers as commonly believed is the very funny Las Vegas romp, called “The Hangover”. If you missed the theatrical release, check out the DVD issue, for it is a great lesson in screenwriting, not to mention good entertainment.

Since the opening scene is pulled from near the end of the movie, most of the movie feature is flashback. This type of literary device has been tried before, but the skill that screenwriters Jon Lucas and Scott Moore ( Ghosts of Girlfriends Past) show in their latest endeavor is just one of the reasons to watch this entertaining piece of cinema. By now the premise is well-known, whereabouts three participants of a wild bachelor party come-to on the morning after with several complexing problems to solve besides their Mt. Everest-sized hangover. The foremost question staring them in the face is how did they get so messed up, but also of importance is what has happened to the missing groom. Compounding the issue is why is there a tiger in the bathroom and where did the baby in the closet come from. From this point on the movie becomes an epic journey through Vegas by three young males in search of what really happened.

All in all the movie is a wild, sometimes satirical romp through Vegas, filled with many surprising twists and turns. Check it out, you’ll like it.

Las Vegas Strip; Personal Photo by Kcferret of the Las Vegas Sign. June 2005
Las Vegas Strip; Personal Photo by Kcferret of the Las Vegas Sign. June 2005