One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you’re maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones. This is like dressing up a household pet in evening clothes. The pet is embarrassed and the person who committed this act of premeditated cuteness should be even more embarrassed.
~Stephen King, On Writing
The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words all being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible. ~Vladimir Nabokov, Lectures on Literature, 1980
There would be punishment and pain, and there would be happiness, too.
~Markus Zusak, The Book Thief
The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.
To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music the words make.
~Truman Capote, McCall’s, November 1967
And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.
If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.
What I like in a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers.
~Logan Pearsall Smith, “All Trivia,” Afterthoughts, 1931
The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium.
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.
Do not put statements in the negative form.
And don’t start sentences with a conjunction.
If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a
great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Last, but not least, avoid clichés like the plague.
~William Safire, “Great Rules of Writing”