10 Writing Tips by Joyce Carol Oates

joyce carol oates

Joyce Carol Oates is an acclaimed author of more than forty novels and countless short stories. She won the National Book Award for her novel, Them and has been thrice-nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Here she offers the following writing tips:

Write your heart out.

The first sentence can be written only after the last sentence has been written. FIRST DRAFTS ARE HELL. FINAL DRAFTS, PARADISE.
You are writing for your contemporaries not for Posterity. If you are lucky, your contemporaries will become Posterity.

Keep in mind Oscar Wilde: A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.

When in doubt how to end a chapter, bring in a man with a gun. (This is Raymond Chandler’s advice, not mine. I would not try this.)
Unless you are experimenting with form gnarled, snarled, & obscure be alert for possibilities of paragraphing.

Be your own editor/critic. Sympathetic but merciless!

Don’t try to anticipate an ideal reader or any reader. He/she might exist but is reading someone else.

Read, observe, listen intensely! as if your life depended upon it.

Write your heart out.

joyce carol oates

— Originally tweeted by Joyce Carol Oates and compiled by Brain Pickings, July 2013

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