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A Compendium of Quotes, Anecdotes, and Writerly Wisdom from a Dazzling Array of Literary Lights

Written by Jon WinokurAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Jon Winokur


List Price: $13.99


On Sale: April 28, 2010
Pages: 240 | ISBN: 978-0-307-55415-4
Published by : Vintage Knopf
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In Advice to Writers, Jon Winokur, author of the bestselling The Portable Curmudgeon, gathers the counsel of more than four hundred celebrated authors in a treasury on the world of writing. Here are literary lions on everything from the passive voice to promotion and publicity: James Baldwin on the practiced illusion of effortless prose, Isaac Asimov on the despotic tendencies of editors, John Cheever on the perils of drink, Ivan Turgenev on matrimony and the Muse. Here, too, are the secrets behind the sleight-of-hand practiced by artists from Aristotle to Rita Mae Brown. Sagacious, inspiring, and entertaining, Advice to Writers is an essential volume for the writer in every reader.


On agents: "Choose your agent as carefully as you would choose your accountant or lawyer. Or dentist." -- Russell Banks

On characters: "The characters have their own lives and their own logic, and you have to act accordingly." -- Isaac Bashevis Singer

On colleagues: "Artists never thrive in colonies. Ants do. What the budding artist needs is the privilege of wrestling with his problems in solitude -- and now and the a piece of red meat." -- Henry Miller

On critics and criticism: "It is advantageous to an author that his book should be attacked as well as praised. Fame is a shuttlecock. If it be struck at only one end of the room, it will soon fall to the ground. To keep it up, it must be struck at both ends." -- Samuel Johnson

On dialogue: "Dialogue in fiction should be reserved for the culminating moments and regarded as the spray into which the great wave of narrative breaks in curving toward the watcher on the shore." -- Edith Wharton

On discouragement: "Writing is easy. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein." -- Red Smith

On drink: "First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you." -- F. Scott Fitzgerald

On editors and editing: "Bow down before them. They know what they are doing." -- Quentin Crisp

On grammar and usage: "Usage is the only test. I prefer a phrase that is easy and unaffected to a phrase that is grammatical." -- W. Somerset Maugham
Jon Winokur

About Jon Winokur

Jon Winokur - Advice to Writers
Jon Winokur is the author of The Rich Are Different. He lives in Pacific Palisades, California.


"Best advice I've ever received: Finish."  --Peter Mayle

"Cut out all those exclamation marks. An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke."  --F. Scott Fitzgerald

"Make your characters want something right away even if it's only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time."  --Kurt Vonnegut

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