Advice to young writers who want to get ahead without annoying delays: don’t write about Man, write about a man.
– E. B. White
With school well underway across the land, here’s something for Catsignal’s younger readers and writers.
John Scalzi tweeted yesterday: “Just found a bunch of short stories I wrote when I was a teenager. Oh my. They are NOT good.”
This comment is virtually a follow-up to an essay he wrote in 2006 giving advice to teenage writers. While much writing advice is good for novice writers of any age, this piece is directed straight at the 13- to 19-year-old crowd. Keep reading past Number 1, no matter badly it annoys you. Scalzi hits various nails squarely atop their heads, and this is advice you can bank on.
Follow that up with wisdom from John Steinbeck and a variety of useful things from Ralph Fletcher. That’s enough for now; I don’t want to keep you from your homework.
Mark Twain is back in the news, not that he ever really left it. His unexpurgated autobiography is being published shortly, and I expect more than a few graveyards will hum with all the spinning some of the residents will be doing. (N.B.: I wrote the phrase “unexpurgated autobiography” before hunting up the NYT article that also uses it. Great minds, and all that.)
Twain had something to say about most everything, and he certainly did not spare his own field. He left us a great many thoughts on what makes a good story. Here is one collection of those thoughts. Finally, we have his masterful blast against novelist James Fenimore Cooper. Early on, Twain gives us twelve solid notions of what a writer should and should not do, and he makes note of how Cooper violated these points of literary order.
Enjoy, and make good use of what the old master taught us.