Tag Archives: Oscar Wilde

The Best of the Best Writing Tips: #2

“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” Elmore Leonard.

imagesThat pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? If you have ever been in a writers group, you know this syndrome. The writer who is in love with polysyllables for the sake of sounding smart, or the one who never met a metaphor she didn’t like–or worse, a writer in love with both unnecessary polysyllables and provides overdoses of metaphors.

KISS was created for a reason.

Mr. Leonard meant more than just keeping it simple, though. He doesn’t merely want his writing to sound truthful and authentic, he wants it to be truthful and authentic.

His tip is closely tied to another piece of advice: Write from the heart. But that’s ¬†another post for another day.

Re-read what you write. Marcel Proust read his words aloud. It’s a tried and true tip. Another take on this comes from Oscar Wilde: Kill your darlings.

In case there is any doubt, he was referring to words.

Rules To Break (sometimes)

Here’s a story worth sharing from Write to Done: “10 Writing Rules You Can’t Break and How to Break Them,” a guest post by Eric Cummings. My favorite: “Write Exciting Titles, But Don’t Write Checks Your Butt Can’t Cash.” Now that’s a title. You’ll have to read it to find out what that’s about.

Another good bit of advice, “Write with Confidence, but don’t be arrogant.” Cummings gives a shout-out on this rule to politicos who call their rivals “pinheads” and other nasty terms. While his take on this seems to be aimed at pundits like Bill O’Reilly and folks of that ilk, I’d add in a 19th Century version of this from Oscar Wilde that I think makes much even more sense: “Kill your darlings.” If you look at a sentence you’ve just written, and think that you sound brilliant, you probably just sound arrogant to other people. Um, kind of like I just did.