Archives for posts with tag: Nobel prize authors

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SIX WRITING TIPS
FROM JOHN STEINBECK

Source: The Paris Review (Fall 1975)

1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.

2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.

3. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.

4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.

5. Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.

6. If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.

PAINTING: Portrait of John Steinbeck by Martiros Saryan (1963)

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In 1956, THE PARIS REVIEW, published a rare interview with William Faulker, where the great author discusses his craft and the books he loves. Below is an excerpt from the interview conducted by Jean Stein.

INTERVIEWER

Do you read your contemporaries?

FAULKNER

No, the books I read are the ones I knew and loved when I was a young man and to which I return as you do to old friends: the Old Testament, Dickens, Conrad, Cervantes, Don QuixoteI read that every year, as some do the Bible. Flaubert, Balzac—he created an intact world of his own, a bloodstream running through twenty books—Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Shakespeare. I read Melville occasionally and, of the poets, Marlowe, Campion, Jonson, Herrick, Donne, Keats, and Shelley. I still read Housman. I’ve read these books so often that I don’t always begin at page one and read on to the end. I just read one scene, or about one character, just as you’d meet and talk to a friend for a few minutes.

INTERVIEWER

And Freud?

FAULKNER

Everybody talked about Freud when I lived in New Orleans, but I have never read him. Neither did Shakespeare. I doubt if Melville did either, and I’m sure Moby Dick didn’t.

INTERVIEWER

Do you ever read mystery stories?

FAULKNER

I read Simenon because he reminds me something of Chekhov.

INTERVIEWER

What about your favorite characters?

FAULKNER

My favorite characters are Sarah Gamp—a cruel, ruthless woman, a drunkard, opportunist, unreliable, most of her character was bad, but at least it was character; Mrs. Harris, Falstaff, Prince Hal, Don Quixote, and Sancho of course. Lady Macbeth I always admire. And Bottom, Ophelia, and Mercutio—both he and Mrs. Gamp coped with life, didn’t ask any favors, never whined. Huck Finn, of course, and Jim.

Read the PARIS REVIEW interview at this link.

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Today, we celebrate “Get Caught Reading” month with a tribute to one of the world’s most renowned readers — and writers — Nobel-prize-winning writer William Faulkner (1897-1963).

According to an article by Susan Reichert at the Southern Writers Magazine blog: The University of Mississippi once invited William Faulkner to the English department to address one class per day for a week. Faulkner devoted the entire time  to answering the students’ questions. When asked what is the best training one should have for writing he said:

Read, read, read. Read everything – classics, good or bad, trash; see how they do it. When a carpenter learns his trade, he does so by observing. Read! You’ll absorb it. Write. If it is good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window.”