The Writer's Book
The Writer's Outlook
There is excellent opportunity for anyone who has seen something of the world, and who can tell his or her own experiences in vivid and cohesive language; who can, in short, tell a good story.
Can Good Writing Be Taught?
Various 19th and 20th century authors weigh in on the question: Is good writing a gift or an art?
There is one thing that most struggling young writers learn sooner or later, by experience aloneand the sooner the better for the ordinary scribeseeking, not name nor fame, but a living income. This is the value of versatility in literary work; the ability to write easily and gracefully on a variety of subjects.
An article on character naming from 1910. Some interesting and unexpected names here.
We have all read stories in which there was plot and grammar, but
which when finished left us with the conviction that our time had been
There is a legitimate use of descriptive writing in modern fiction and that use is worth some study.
There is, perhaps, no other subject which so earnestly recommends itself to the old as well as to the young writer, as the subtle art of choosing the right word for the right place.
For Would-Be Authors
Novelists are born, not made. All the teaching and training in the world never yet put a spark of divine fire into the work of a romancer who had not the romance faculty in her soul.
Force is that quality of style which is required to produce an
effect on the mind. Just as clearness is the appeal words make to the
understanding, force is the appeal which they make to the feeling.
Handling the Details
The work of beginners and of those to whom manuscripts return and re-return, is not infrequently characterized either by a mass of irrelevant matter, which kills suspense and clogs the rapid action of the machinery, or by a paucity of details which leaves an unfinished and hence unattractive picture. Either defect is fatal, and one runs into the other as easily as malaria merges into typhoid.
Improve Your Style
Some tips on reading and writing to improve style.
The great difference between the better and the inferior writer, the skilled and the unskilled, the true marksman and the poor, the genius and the scrub, lies in the management of details.
Movement in Literary Composition
In the dominant theme there is found the force of the forward movement. This element is one that requires the greatest care in handling, for by its very nature it is apt to push the writer into nervous haste and mar the effect of the story.
Notes on Description
The success of a writer in any line of literary work depends largely upon his or her power of description.
Paragraph Construction and Unity
Most beginners in literature have little or no idea of paragraph
construction. They imagine that if a group of sentences deals with one
subject, all the requirements have been fulfilled.
Remarks on Writing Success
There is no royal, well-paved road leading straight up to the heights of literary success.
The Analytic Method in Literature
Leaving out lyric poetry, which is primarily a pure gush of emotion,
the contents of most works of literature may be considered under these
heads:Theme, plot, situations, characters, tone and style.
The Art of Punctuation
Punctuation marks are little things, but they are as essential to
good composition as nails are to a carpenter.
The Point of Attack
Is literary power a kind of magic? It is not, and it is. It is not, because we can analyze its method quite definitely. It is, because the faithful pursuit of its method will not produce a result of equal value in every case.
The Writer's First Step
One of the commonest questions asked by young writers is: "What shall I write about?"
When Characters are Real
If you are the absolute master of all your characters, you can be sure they are not real. If, however, they surprise you now and then, you might just have the real thing.
Good, broad strokes have force in literature, as well as in
art, but it is not to be supposed that the writer can handle his
subject thus without a precise knowledge of detail.
Writing What They Want
An article from The Editor Company (c. 1910) abut hack writing for fun and profit