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An Infant of Monstrous Aspect

Writing…always, always only starts out as shit: an infant of monstrous aspect; bawling, ugly, terrible, and it stays terrible for a long, long time (sometimes forever). Unlike cooking, for example, where largely edible, if raw, ingredients are assembled, cut, heated, and otherwise manipulated into something both digestible and palatable, writing is closer to having to …

Listen

Here’s a warning. If you don’t listen, if you go around arrogantly making up dialogue for your characters, all of them will sound like you, and that’s one of the ways bad short stories and novels are written. (Also bad journalism, oddly enough. Because certain arrogant journalists make up their own quotes.) -CAROLYN SEE

Think Small

Write about small, self-contained incidents that are still vivid in your memory. If you remember them, it’s because they contain a larger truth that your readers will recognize in their own lives. Think small and you’ll wind up finding the big themes in your family saga. -WILLIAM ZINSSER