Rumor has it that Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to write the shortest novel ever. In response, he wrote: “For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.”
Whether or not Hemingway actually wrote those six incredible words, they show the power in simplicity. One of the “rules of writing” that I’ve heard over and over is that sometimes less is more—especially when evoking strong emotions. Novelist and TV Writer/Producer Lowell Cauffiel stated in an interview on Storylogue.com that Hemingway’s “shortest novel ever” reminds him that when he’s editing to especially look for what he can delete or pare down—long paragraphs of description or setting that don’t move the story forward, unnecessary dialogue, or large chunks of information.
There are as many ways to write and as many styles of writing as there are fingerprints but remember the beauty in simplicity and lean writing. To read some of Hemingway’s (short) writing tips, check out this post by Brian Clark: “Ernest Hemingway’s Top 5 Tips for Writing Well.” To learn more about six-word memoirs, read Carly’s post.
I collect words and sentences like some people collect salt and pepper shakers, stamps, or paintings. I love words and sentences for their sounds and ideas. My commonplace books are home to poems, quotes, and snippets of text that inspire me. If you’re interested in learning more about commonplace books, read, A twist on the writer’s journal: The commonplace book.
For a glimpse at recent entries from my commonplace book, check out the excerpts below. Then feel free to share something from your commonplace book.
“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” – Cesar Cruz Read more
Are you getting in your reader’s way? Getting in the way can take many forms. At the Vegas Valley Book Festival Saturday, young adult author Matt de la Peña presented a workshop about this very topic.
Here’s what he had to say:
Don’t bog down your story’s beginning. Be wary of loading it down with too many details, characters and too much backstory. Let the story unfold in a timely way. Read more
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy finding a letter in their mailbox from a friend or relative. But in this age of e-mail and text messaging, writing letters has become a lost art. If you’re feeling self-conscious about your writing, distracted, or out of your groove, penning a letter or two is one way to warm up your writing muscles.
If you frequently talk to or e-mail the person you’re writing to, you might think you don’t have much to say in a letter. And who wants to talk about the weather, unless there’s something drastic about it? Instead, think about how you might tell your friend a story about what’s happening in your life. Maybe you met an interesting person when you were out and about, experienced something funny in your workplace, or observed something odd on the way home from work. Be poetic. Think of just the right words to tell your stories. Read more