10 Tips on Writing from Joyce Carol Oates
Joyce Carol Oates Offers Ten Tips on Writing
1. Write your heart out.
2. The first sentence can be written only after the last sentence has been written. FIRST DRAFTS ARE HELL. FINAL DRAFTS, PARADISE.
3. You are writing for your contemporaries — not for Posterity. If you are lucky, your contemporaries will become Posterity.
4. Keep in mind Oscar Wilde: “A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.”
5. When in doubt how to end a chapter, bring in a man with a gun. (This is Raymond Chandler’s advice, not mine. I would not try this.)
6. Unless you are experimenting with form — gnarled, snarled & obscure — be alert for possibilities of paragraphing.
7. Be your own editor/critic. Sympathetic but merciless!
8. Don’t try to anticipate an ideal reader — or any reader. He/she might exist — but is reading someone else.
9. Read, observe, listen intensely! — as if your life depended upon it.
10. Write your heart out.
Anything I’ve encountered in the world is never as interesting as a novel… What you find out there is never as exciting as your own creation.