Archive for the ‘Writing Quotes’ Category

Last week, I dug up some CDs of novelist Stephen King’s reading of his book On Writing and came across this nugget:

“Plot is, I think, the good writer’s last resort and the dullard’s first choice. The story which results from it is apt to feel artificial and labored. I lean more heavily on intuition, and have been able to do that because my books tend to be based on situation rather than story . . . . I want to put a group of characters (perhaps a pair; perhaps even just one) in some sort of predicament and then watch them try to work free. My job is not to  manipulate them to safety—those are jobs which require the noisy jackhammer of plot—but to watch what happens and then write it down. The situation comes first. The characters—always flat and unfeatured, to begin with—come next.”
Stephen King
On Writing, A Memory of Craft (2000 version), page 164

Related posts:
Stephen King on Theme
The job of the writer is . . .’  (Stephen King)
Descriptive Writing (Stephen King) 
Stephen King’s Doublewide Trailer 

Scott W. Smith 

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“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”
Jack Kerouac
Some of the Dharma

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Writing Quote #67 (John Updike)

To the young writers, I would merely say try to develop actual work habits, and even though you have a busy life, try to reserve an hour — or more — a day to write.  Some very good things have been written on an hour a day. Henry Greene was an industrialist actually. He was running a company, and he would come home and write for just an hour in an armchair, and wonderful books were created in this way. So, take it seriously, you know, just set a quota.”
Novelist John Updike, Two Pulitzer Prizes for Fiction
Academy of Acheivment

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Writing Quote #66 (Frank Darabont)

“For me, it was a matter of years of trying to develop my writing in the same way that some people spend years learning to play the violin.”
Writer/director Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption)

Note: I pulled this quote from my 2008 post Screenwriter’s Work Ethic. I think it might have originally been from the book Zen and the Art of Screenwriting (Vol. 2) by William Froug. In my nine years of writing this blog that the team of consistently developing their talents is one of the most common traits for screenwriters that produce the best work.

Related posts:
The Secret to Being a Successful Screenwriter (Seriously) — John Logan
How to Be a Successful Screenwriter —Michael Arndt


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Writing Quote #65 (Willa Cather)

“Of course Nebraska is a storehouse for literary material. Everywhere is a storehouse of literary material. If a true artist were born in a pigpen and raised in a sty, he would still find plenty of inspiration for work. The only need is the eye to see.”
Willa Cather
My Antonia

P.S. I pulled this quote from my 2008 post Screenwriting from Nebraska. 

Related posts:
“Wake Up and Pay Attention”—Alexander Payne (Nebraska native)
‘My Nebraska’
The Nebraska Mafia in L.A. 

Scott W. Smith

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Once upon a time I started a little blog called Screenwriting from Iowa. It was meant to be a one year experiment—but here I am nine years later. My original goal was to gather some notes together and eventually organize them into a 50,000 word book.

More on the book and the direction of this blog later this month, but this year will be heavy on revisiting some of the over 2,000 blog posts I written. Sometime they will be the full post slightly updated, and other times it will be just a quoted pulled from a longer post that deserves to stand on it’s own.

Today’s quote is pulled from the 1510 word post Can Screenwriting Be Taught (2.0): 

“I felt the years go by without accomplishment. Occasionally I wrote a short story that no one bought. I called myself a writer though I had no true subject matter. Yet from time to time I sat at a table and wrote, although it took years for my work to impress me.”
Bernard Malamud (The Natural and Pulitzer Prize winner The Fixer)

Note: Malamud was born in 1914 and didn’t have his first novel published until 1952. That novel finally made its way to the big screen in 1984 with Robert Redford starring as The Natural.  The screenplay was written by Roger Towne and Phil Dusenberry. The film was directed by Barry Levinson between directing Diner and Rain Man (for which Levsinson won his sole Oscar)—three personal favorite films of mine.

Scott W. Smith

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Writing Quote #63 (Anne Rice)

“I write about outsiders seeking redemption in one form or another and always will.”
Novelist Anne Rice  (The Vampire Chronicles)
2016 Billboard interview with Alice Cooper

Related posts:
Hope & Redemption
Storytelling Soul Game
Fear, Pity, Catharsis (Tip #69)
Broken Wings & Silver Lining
‘The Verdict’ Revisited

Scott W. Smith

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