The less said the better

A spelling bee perhaps?

When David French and I wrote The Little Book of Cynics (this is the bit where “Collectors’ Item” ought to flash in neon), we were following in a long tradition of encapsulating ideas in as few words as possible. Nowadays we associate such brevity with advertising and corporate branding, but thought-provoking philosophy can also travel well in just a few syllables.

Like most writers I know, I have a talismanic fondness for notebooks. Sometimes, just knowing I have one of those wundabooks close by can often open a channel to the muse. With that in mind, here are some of those condensed thoughtlets relating to writing, that made it past the red pen.

Loose ends in fiction are like unwelcome dinner guests. You didn’t ask for them, but you have to entertain them nonetheless.

A good book isn’t just a friend for life – it’s a friend for generations.

The pen is mightier than the sword, especially when it’s a red pen.

First draft is for the author, second draft is for the reader and every other draft is for the industry.

A book’s only finished when the author says so.

Fiction is real life – the life in my head.

Behind every successful author is an exasperated muse.

When the going gets tough, it’s time for sturdy books.

Do we triumph over adversity, or because of it?

The mark of good fiction is that, even though you know it is fiction, you want it to be true.

And if you enjoy a quote or three, why not visit fellow scribe and blogger Chloe Banks, who has made a regular date with memorable quotes: 
Quotable Friday 6

Quotable Friday 1


  1. Chloe says:

    I love the one about fiction being real life. I think if there was no adversity, there would be no triumph? Interesting thought.

    (What's really weird is I have a blog post scheduled for publication later this week – one of my "Quoatable Friday" ones – in which I've done not one quotation, but a list of quotations about writing. Great minds and all that. Will pop a link in to this post!)

  2. Deb says:

    'First draft is for the author, second draft is for the reader and every other draft is for the industry.'
    This is one of the best pieces of advice for any writer. A script writer at the BBC said, 'remember, it is only you who will ever see the first draft'.
    Great post, Derek!

  3. Derek says:

    Well, unless we're foolish enough to think the first draft is wonderful and submit it! I don;t know what the norm is, but I'm generally happy to accommodate any edits – after all I have 'my' book. The reader must come first and, like it or not, agents and editors are the arbiters of what the readers want to see.

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