In this post, Writers Write looks at bits of writing advice from Arthur Hailey.
About Arthur Hailey
Arthur Frederick Hailey (5 April 1920 to 24 November 2004) was a British-Canadian author.
His debut screenplay Flight Into Danger appeared in 1956. Its success led to more writing: poetry, short stories, and novels. From 1939 to 1941, he served as an RAF Flight Lieutenant — and in 1947, he relocated to Canada.
Hailey passed away in the Bahamas.
5 Bits Of Writing Advice From Arthur Hailey
1. Shape & Change Reality
‘I interview people for fictional purposes. Nothing is actual. I never take notes. I tell the people I interview: Anything you tell me will be shaped and changed. No one will ever guess who you are or the people or the situations you tell me about.’ – Interview with the Boston Globe
Writers often use real situations (or characters) for their writing. It’s okay to draw from real experience, but verbatim (‘as-is’) becomes a journalism piece or nonfiction essay.
Hailey interviewed real-life subjects, and it formed some of his characters. He did this with care, so that actual people and situations aren’t identifiable.
Once something is both harmful and identifiable, it’s potential libel. If you use reality in stories, change names and situations enough.
2. Work Ahead
‘It’s four years before they’re published… I’m a very slow worker and my publishers are nervous.’ – CBC Interview, 1976
Always work ahead as a writer. It means you should pitch ahead, and write ahead – and this should be a fine rhythm that you can maintain.
In this interview, Hailey admitted that his books could take four years to publish. Even for ‘big’ or famous writers, this means planning your budget, and having a set routine.
3. Write That Story
‘I wrote advertising and promotional copy. I’m a capitalist at heart. I wanted to make more money. One day my wife said to me: ‘Why don’t you do what you’ve always wanted to do? Why don’t you write books?’’ – Interview with Boston Globe
All writers have that handful of stories they’d really love to write, but their own doubts stop them from going further than chapter one. Writing a story to completion can be [insert writers’ excuse here], and postpone a good story for years or decades.
What if you just settled, and wrote it down?
Hailey’s wife told him to take a copywriting break and write books, and that’s exactly what he did. Stephen King’s wife saved Carrie from the wastebasket, telling him to finish and submit, which he did.
Start writing. That’s always step one to being a writer.
4. Stay In Control
‘So let me tell you, Nicky, there’s nothing wrong with being scared to death. It can happen to the best. What counts is hanging on, somehow staying in control and doing what you know you should.’ – The Evening News
Writing is chaotic by nature.
There are outlines, notes, edits, changes, versions, and all these little plot lines you’d like to change, add, or get rid of.
Hailey gives great advice in The Evening News, staying in control is key.
When you know it’s time to edit, don’t procrastinate for another two hours. Get it done, and stay in control.
Professional writers remain in control, unprofessional writers don’t.
5. Keep Writing
‘I gave up a sure thing to do an unsure thing. It was not just something I felt I wanted to do. It was a deep, compelling feeling. This was something that I had to do.’ – Interview with the Boston Globe
Rejection is always discouraging: though doing this for more than a decade has taken some of the sting out of it, rejection can still push ideas (and sometimes confidence) back a few notches.
Hailey had a very strong urge to write, which most authors can relate to.
He faced rejections, took some time to be an RAF Lieutenant, and continued to write.
Don’t let anything stop you from telling good stories: that writing urge sticks around, and it means you should keep writing.
The Last Word
In this post, Writers Write explored writing advice from Arthur Hailey. We hope that our bits of writing advice can enrich your writing with tips from the pros.
By Alex J. Coyne. Alex is a writer, proofreader, and regular card player. His features about cards, bridge, and card playing have appeared in Great Bridge Links, Gifts for Card Players, Bridge Canada Magazine, and Caribbean Compass. Get in touch at alexcoyneofficial.com.
If you enjoyed this, read other posts by Alex:
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