On my favorite Science-y website, io9, I came across an article about C.S. Lewis and some writing advice he gave in response to a fan letter back in 1965.
I pulled the tips from the letter because I thought they were sincere and really good advice!
Writing Advice from C.S. Lewis as seen on http://www.io9.com/
1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.
2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them.
3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”
4. In writing. Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, “Please will you do my job for me.”
5. Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.
These are such simple tips, but sometimes, as writers, we get so caught up in our flowery prose, and so enamored of the words we write, we forget to make sure our point is made. We forget to keep it simple. I’d like to point out #4 in particular. 🙂
What’s the best writing advice you’ve heard?
Keeping my head above water,
Claire L. Fishback
Angeline Trevena says
Thank you so much for sharing, excellent post (and I am a huge Narnia addict!)
I'm gonna tweet a link to this post because everyone should read it, particularly No 4 – I love that!
Claire L. Fishback says
No. 4 is particularly great!
Thanks for stopping by and for the Tweet! 🙂