advice. If I were going to memorize a few to recite in front of my class today, they would be the following:
From A.L. Kennedy:
Read. As much as you can. As deeply and widely and nourishingly
and irritatingly as you can. And the good things will make you
remember them, so you won’t need to take notes.
From Elmore Leonard: Avoid detailed descriptions of characters, which Steinbeck covered. In Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants”, what do the “American and the girl with him” look like? “She had taken off her hat and put it on the table.” That’s the only reference to a physical description in the story.
Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose”. This rule doesn’t require an explanation. I have noticed that writers who use “suddenly” tend to exercise less control in the application of exclamation points.
Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them.
From Jonathan Frazier:
Write in the third person unless a really distinctive first-person voice offers itself irresistibly.
Never use the word “then” as a conjunction – we have “and” for this purpose. Substituting “then” is the lazy or tone-deaf writer’s non-solution to the problem of too many “ands” on the page.