Posted by: Kathy Temean | June 21, 2011

Writing Tips from Top Novelists home    Inspired by Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing, we asked authors for their personal dos and don’ts.  Below are some of the tips offered by the authors that I thought were worth noting.

PD James

1  Increase your word power. Words are the raw material of our craft. The greater your vocabulary the more ­effective your writing. We who write in English are fortunate to have the richest and most versatile language in the world. Respect it.

2  Read widely and with discrimination.  Bad writing is contagious.

3  Don’t just plan to write – write. It is only by writing, not dreaming about it, that we develop our own style.

4  Write what you need to write, not what is currently popular or what you think will sell.

5  Open your mind to new experiences, particularly to the study of other ­people. Nothing that happens to a writer – however happy, however tragic – is ever wasted.

Anne Enright

1  The first 12 years are the worst.

2  The way to write a book is to actually write a book. A pen is useful, typing is also good. Keep putting words on the page.

3  Only bad writers think that their work is really good.

Diana Athill

Read it aloud to yourself because that’s the only way to be sure the rhythms of the sentences are OK (prose rhythms are too complex and subtle to be thought out – they can be got right only by ear).

2  Cut (perhaps that should be CUT): only by having no ­inessential words can every essential word be made to count.

Richard Ford

1  Marry somebody you love and who thinks you being a writer’s a good idea.

Margaret Atwood

1.  You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You’ve been backstage. You’ve seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a ­romantic relationship, unless you want to break up.

David Hare 

1.  The two most depressing words in the English language are “literary fiction“.

Hilary Mantel

1  If you have a good story idea, don’t assume it must form a prose narrative. It may work better as a play, a screenplay or a poem. Be flexible.

2 Be aware that anything that appears before “Chapter One” may be skipped. Don’t put your vital clue there.

Here is the link to read all the tips offered:

Talk tomorrow,



  1. This is great stuff, Kathy 🙂 I started reading them and got lost in it (I don’t agree with the overly rigid opinions of Elmore Leonard, though—-a bit much, in my opinion. I DO love when writers talk about writing. In fact, I have two books called “Writers on Writing.” There are two volumes. I’ve only picked at them, but LOVE them!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: