Such great stuff here. I laughed my head off at the Jane Austen one:
I haven’t any right to criticize books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read Pride and Prejudice I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”
The test of any good fiction is that you should care something for the characters; the good to succeed, the bad to fail. The trouble with most fiction is that you want them all to land in hell together, as quickly as possible.
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.
Especially funny to me because this morning, I woke up and opened a 4,000-word draft I had written late at night. Editing, I come across this passage: “A gift is given freely; and freedom always leaves room for fuck-ups – otherwise, it would not be free. Otherwise, it would not be a gift.” My husband said it sounded like something Randy would say.
But this one hit too close to home:
The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is you really want to say.
Dammit, Mark Twain.