Monday, November 07, 2011

Eight Rules for Good Writing

My writer friend Sibella sent me this quote from C.S. Lewis:

  • In 1959, an American schoolgirl appealed to C. S. Lewis for writing advice, and he sent her a list of eight rules for good writing: 

  • 1. Turn off the radio [and television].

  • 2. Read good books and avoid most magazines.

  • 3. Write with the ear, not the eye. Make every sentence sound good.

  • 4. Write only about things that interest you. If you have no interests, you won't ever be a writer.

  • 5. Be clear. Remember that readers can't know your mind. Don't forget to tell them exactly what they need to know to understand you.

  • 6. Save odds and ends of writing attempts, because you may be able to use them later.

  • 7. You need a well-trained sense of word-rhythm, and the noise of a typewriter will interfere.

  • 8. Know the meaning of every word you use.
    Source: C. S. Lewis. Collected Letters. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1966, 291-292. Quoted in Kathryn Lindskoog, Creative Writing for People Who 
    Can't Not Write. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1989, 253.

  • ~~Angie


    Anonymous said...

    Sweet! Thanks for sharing! Although I must say... I NEED to have the radio/music on when I write. Maybe that's not such a good idea? On the other hand, if the television is on, I might as well just shut my computer (and brain) down, because it's simply no use trying to write with obnoxious voices yelling in the background....

    J:-)mi said...

    It'd be pointless for me to turn of the music. There's always songs running through my head anyway! :-D

    UlrikeGrace said...

    Thank you Angie! What a delightful find as well as practical! I especially like the admonition to write by ear! I enjoy reading my work out loud as it shows all the awkward stumbling places and my ear can pick up so much faster when I have used a particular word one too many times. Thanks for this, it's a keeper! Blessings to you