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March 8, 2010

Classic Advice for Writers

This Extra Ink was written by Betsy C.

Writing is hard. It takes discipline, intelligence, creativity, imagination and a whole host of other qualities that most writers sometimes struggle to master. Ultimately, every writer has to come up with her own way of creating good work. However, it s always nice to have a little help from proven experts and with that in mind, I ve got a whole Extra Ink full of great advice from successful, professional writers. Here we go!

George Orwell is one of the best-known American fiction writers of this century his most famous work is probably 1984. Here are his thoughts on writing style:

Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

Never use a long word where a short one will do.

If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

Never use the passive where you can use the active.

Margaret Atwood is an acclaimed author of both fiction and poetry, and her body of work includes the dystopian classic (and one of my personal favorites) The Handmaid s Tale. Her advice is refreshingly practical, and includes such important maxims as:

Take a pencil to write with on airplanes. Pens leak.

Take something to write on. Paper is good. In a pinch, pieces of wood or your arm will do.

Do back exercises. Pain is distracting.

Robert A. Heinlein is sometimes called the dean of science fiction writing and with credentials like that, you can bet he s got some solid advice for new writers. Of all the advice I ve compiled for you today, his is my favorite.

You must write.

Finish what you start.

Put your work on the market. [Ed. note: that means submit it to Teen Ink!]

Start working on something else.

Great as all of this advice is, I have one more rule from George Orwell that s probably the most important of all, and here it is: Break any of these rules sooner than saying something outright barbarous. Remember that there is an exception to every rule, but make sure your exception is really worthy of going against all this sage advice.

PS: Betsy has returned to the Teen Ink Twitter stream, so check it out and follow her for daily writing tips, contests, and other fun stuff!

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