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12 Authors On Rewriting

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Manuscript on typewriter machine

1) Laurie Halse Anderson

“Revision means throwing out the boring crap and making what’s left sound natural.”

2) Neil Gaiman

“The best advice I can give on this is, once it’s done, to put it away until you can read it with new eyes. Finish the short story, print it out, then put it in a drawer and write other things. When you’re ready, pick it up and read it, as if you’ve never read it before. If there are things you aren’t satisfied with as a reader, go in and fix them as a writer: that’s revision.” 

3) Elmore Leonard

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

4) John Irving

“And I think what I’ve always recognized about writing is that I don’t put much value in so-called inspiration. The value is in how many times you can redo something.”

5) Dorothy Parker

“It takes me six months to do a story. I think it out and write it sentence by sentence–no first draft. I can’t write five words but that I can change seven.”

6) E.B White

“It is no sign of weakness or defeat that your manuscript ends up in need of major surgery. This is common in all writing and among the best of writers.”

7) Truman Capote

“I’m all for the scissors. I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.” 

8) Will Self

“Don’t look back until you’ve written an entire draft, just begin each day from the last sentence you wrote the preceding day. This prevents those cringing feelings, and means that you have a substantial body of work before you get down to the real work which is all in the edit.”

9) Isaac B. Singer

“The waste paper basket is the writer’s best friend.”

10) Roald Dahl

“By the time I am nearing the end of a story, the first part will have been reread and altered and corrected at least one hundred and fifty times. I am suspicious of both facility and speed.”

11) Gloria T. Delamar

“Only amateurs don’t rewrite. It’s in the rewriting that writers bring ALL their knowledge – basic craft, technique, style, organization, attitude, creative inspiration – to the work.”

12) Stephen King

“Formula: 2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%. Good luck.” 

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