15 Authors Share Their Best Writing Advice

15 Authors Share THeir Best AdviceWhen authors whose stories have impacted the world start talking, you better start listening! Enjoy the following collection of the best writing advice from top authors on fifteen important topics.

Be instructed, and be inspired!

1. Beginnings

Write a section or scene that comes before the place where your piece will begin, to help you become familiar with your characters, plot or setting.—Scott Edelstein

(Click here for more tips on writing great beginnings.)

2. Characters

Find out what your hero or heroine wants, and when he or she wakes up in the morning, just follow him or her all day.—Ray Bradbury

(Click here for more tips on crafting your characters.)

3. Description

One shouldn’t explain beyond what’s necessary.—William of Occam

(Click here for more tips on writing evocative descriptions.)

4. Dialogue

…let the emotional weight of a scene rest on the dialogue wherever possible. This is the easy way to avoid overinterpretation, which seems to be what turns a scene from sympathetic to sentimental.—Judith Guest

(Click here for more tips on writing realistic dialogue.)

5. Editing

An author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.—Colette

(Click here for more tips on editing your fiction.)

6. Endings

I rewrote the ending of Farewell to Arms 39 times before I was satisfied.—Ernest Hemingway

(Click here for more tips on finding the right ending for your story.)

7. Inspiration

…most of the time that which we call inspiration is just a dry, academic process: a brutal, unromantic exercise in patience. Some of us weather it, some of us don’t.—Lee Adams

(Click here for more tips on hacking your best inspiration.)

8. Originality

The secret of good writing is to say an old thing in a new way or to say a new thing in an old way.—Richard Harding Davis

(Click here for more tips on finding originality.)

9. Plot

Often I’ll find clues to where the story might go by figuring out where the characters would rather not go.—Doug Lawson

(Click here for more tips on plotting your novel.)

10. Rewriting

The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is you really want to say.—Mark Twain

(Click here for more tips on rewriting.)

11. Show and Tell

If you tell me, it’s an essay. If you show me, it’s a story.—Barbara Greene

(Click here for more tips on the difference between shoring and telling.)

12. Style

The best style is the style you don’t notice.—Somerset Maugham

(Click here for tips on polishing your writing style.)

13. Subtlety

What I like in a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers.—Logan Pearsall Smith

(Click here for more tips on writing with subtlety.)

14. Title

A good title should be like a good metaphor. It should intrigue without being too baffling or too obvious.—Walker Percy

(Click here for more tips on finding the best title for your story.)

15. Voice

A writer’s voice is not character alone, it is not style alone; it is far more. A writer’s voice is the stroke of an artist’s brush—is the thumbprint of her whole person—her idea, wit, humor, passions, rhythms.—Patricia Lee Gauch

(Click here for more tips on finding your voice.)

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.


  1. Great quotes! Thanks for sharing these. I’m going to print them out and hang them by my computer.

  2. I love these quotes. They basically cover everything! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  3. @Lorna: I have a lot of these hanging bu mu computer too.

    @Mackensie: Yep, lots of wisdom here!

  4. Great list. My two favourites are the ones on plot and subtlety.

  5. Those were my faves too.

  6. Great collection of quotes! Thanks for sharing. :O)

  7. Glad you enjoyed them!

  8. Anonymous says

    Nice… I liked the one “Often I’ll find clues to where the story might go by figuring out where the characters would rather not go.” Haha! How very true! It reminds me of another quote; pardon the length:

    “The job of the storyteller is to put the hero up in a tree and then throw rocks at him. Surround the tree with rabid wolves. Light it on fire. Put a helicopter above with bad guys firing laser-sighted explosive rounds. Have an earthquake. The volcano blows up. Drop an asteroid on the planet. Aliens invade. And the tree has Dutch elm disease.”

    I’d name the book I found this in but, quite sadly, it’s thoroughly profanity-laced and I’d rather not promote it.


  9. Love it! In a nutshell, that’s the old bit of advice: Think of the worst thing that can happen to your character, then make it worse.

  10. I loved this post: full of inspiration and good advice. My favorite was the one on voice: the thumbprint of her whole person–her idea, wit, humor, passions, rhythms.
    Love that.

    Dawn Herring

  11. Voice is often difficult to explain – and therefore difficult to understand. But I think Gauch summed up its essence beautifully.

  12. I loved all of them, but the one I loved the most was on Show and Tell:

    “If you tell me, it’s an essay. If you show me, it’s a story.”—Barbara Greene

    I liked how she phrased it! Makes it easy to see why showing is most important. Of course, there are places for telling, but those should not be dominant.

  13. Showing vs. telling is another area that’s often misunderstood. I’m with you that Greene did a good job of boiling it down to basics.

  14. What wonderful advice! I am also going to print out and paste where I can see them every day.

  15. Re-reading the tried and true advice of writers who have gone before us is always a good practice.

  16. Thank you for sharing! Great quotes :o) A nice keepsake post – thank you!

  17. Glad you enjoyed it! I had a lot of fun putting it together.

  18. Awesome guotes! I needed the inspiration today. Thanks!

  19. I always find these inspiring myself.

  20. I love quotes, and I really like how a collection like this tells a story of its own. This was fun to read.

  21. Quotes are a lot of fun. I always have fun looking them up for my daily Twitter quote.

  22. I’m a bit late to the party, but just wanted to say what a great post this was. Loads of great quotes, but I particularly appreciated the way you structured them into the core elements like this. It’s like a mini masterclass. Looking forward to more!

  23. Great quotes!

  24. They just make this look like a piece of cake! 🙂

    I really enjoyed the quotes! Thanks!

  25. @Melanie: Glad you enjoyed them! It was instructive to me as well to pigeonhole the quotes’ subject matter.

    @Julia: Thanks for commenting!

    @Tiffany: No kidding… although I’m sure Ernest Hemingway and his 39 rewrites would beg to differ. 😉

  26. Love the beginnings. I do what I call “the Day Before”. For each character, I write “the day before” the story begins – to learn who they are, what was going on with them before the story takes place, etc. It really helps them ARRIVE on the page when they’re introduced as fully realized people with a life.

    Great post!

  27. Great idea! I’ve often toyed with the idea of writing a short story “prequel” to novels, to help me get in the characters’ groove. But I love the “day before” idea. I’ll have to give it a try.

  28. hmmm!!!!!!!!
    really as you said….lots of tips here………
    very nice quotes…something to learn from

  29. Hi, Shilpi! Have fun looking around. I hope you find some useful information.

  30. Great post. I really loved all the quotes. You really can learn so much from other writers and people forget that in the competition driven world we live in. Thanks for being such a great example that it doesn’t have to be that way.

  31. I’ve learned – and continue to learn – so much from the shared wisdom of generous authors. The writing world is an endless circle of information!

  32. Many institutions limit access to their online information. Making this information available will be an asset to all.

  33. I love these quotes. They basically cover everything! Thanks for sharing. 🙂
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  34. Oh, I don’t know about *everything*, but there’s definitely lots of good advice here!

  35. For some reason, the advice’s of Hemingway always gives me creeps. :/

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