Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘John Steinbeck’

Channel your anxiety and fear to write your best book

“Art is never finished, only abandoned.” — Leonardo DaVinci

In a recent lesson, novelist and TV Writer/Producer Lowell Cauffiel mentions that many would-be novelists get to the two-thirds point in their novels and quit.

Author Dorothy Parker has been quoted as saying that she hates writing but loves having written.

Writing is hard–physically, mentally, and emotionally. We struggle to find just the right words and structure. We question our work and question our abilities. We question everything.

Cauffiel says this is good. He tells how author John Steinbeck kept a journal during the time he wrote his great American novel, “The Grapes of Wrath.”

Steinbeck constantly questioned himself and his abilities. Below are a few of his thoughts from his journal, Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath: Read more

“Live at fever pitch,” and other advice by bestselling authors

Author Ray Bradbury, incredibly prolific throughout his life, penned several novels and over 600 short stories. He also gave many entertaining interviews sharing his writing advice to up-and-coming writers.

I especially love his advice to “live at fever pitch.”

Below is a post with a 1970’s interview with Bradbury on his thoughts about the role of literature and art in society:

Ray Bradbury: Literature is the Safety Valve of Civilization

And, in case you haven’t see them already, check out the following links with Kurt Vonnegut and John Steinbeck:

The Shape of A Story: Writing Tips from Kurt Vonnegut

John Steinbeck’s Six Tips for the Aspiring Writer and His Nobel Prize Speech

I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

A letter to writers from John Steinbeck

Does starting a story scare you? Maybe you put off putting pen to paper because of fear. John Steinbeck felt the same way.

In a letter to writers, Steinbeck wrote:

“It is not so very hard to judge a story after it is written, but, after many years, to start a story still scares me to death. I will go so far as to say that the writer who is not scared is happily unaware of the remote and tantalizing majesty of the medium.” Read more

Use foreshadowing like John Steinbeck to deepen your writing

I like to think that excellent literature has an after effect. The meaning sinks in and the story resonates even after you finish reading it.

One of the ways to create this effect in your writing is by foreshadowing — through the use of hints — the theme of the story or action that will occur later.

I experienced this “after effect” after reading “Of Mice and Men” a novel by John Steinbeck about two migrant workers — George and his developmentally disabled friend Lennie. The two friends, who dream of owning their own farm someday, take jobs at a ranch where a tragic accident destroys their hopes.

Early in the story, another worker named Candy is pressured to end the life of his sick, old dog. Another character, Carlson convinces Candy to let Carlson put the dog down.

Carlson demonstrates how he would do it:

“The way I’d shoot him, he wouldn’t feel nothing. I’d put the gun right there.” He pointed with his toe. “Right back of the head. He wouldn’t even quiver.”

Later Candy tells George:

“I ought to of shot that dog myself, George. I shouldn’t ought to of let no stranger shoot my dog.” Read more