Writers Write shares writing resources and writing tips. In this post, we share six bits of writing advice from Louis L’Amour.
What can writers learn from Louis L’Amour, one of the most popular western fiction writers to live yet?
Who Was Louis L’Amour?
Louis L’Amour (born 22 March 1908, died 10 June 10 1988) was one of the most prolific writers of western fiction to ever live.
His books include Westward The Tide, Crossfire Trail, and The Man Called Noon. L’Amour also wrote poetry and short stories in his time, with a total of 89 novels at the time of his death in 1988.
From Jamestown, North Dakota, Louis Dearborn LaMoore spent time as a cattle-herder, mining assessor, and even as a professional boxer for a while. All of his experiences and meetings enriched his writing
Here’s what writers can learn from the rich library of Louis L’Amour, and what he had to say about the craft of writing.
6 Bits Of Writing Advice From Louis L’Amour
L’Amour had a lot to say about writing, and was not stingy with his advice to other authors. He had a knack for scene, characters, and setting that guaranteed good writing. Here are six bits of writing advice from the great Louis L’Amour.
1. Write In Plain Language
‘The best writing is the simplest writing. If you can read something and it’s so simple and clear you think you could write it better, you can bet you can’t.’
If a writer wants to be read widely, write for everyone. Write fiction that can be enjoyed by a night-shift security guard, a librarian, a nurse, a surgeon, and a soldier.
Writing in plain language seems simple, but isn’t. Learn how!
2. Just Write
‘Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.’
A lot of what writing is involves looking at a page, wondering what to write. Writers can cut out a lot of time from their day by just not wondering about it too much – and writing.
Stream-of-consciousness writing, writing prompts, and sitting down to write a scene are all things that can help.
L’Amour advocated just sitting down and writing to start up the creative flow.
Even if you write a few sentences that you imagine are good (but fit nowhere yet), write and save them for later.
3. Don’t Overplot
‘I start with a character and a situation, but I don’t know what’s going to happen until I write it.’
Outlining is an essential part of knowing where to go with your story, but there are many writers who don’t put too much detail in the initial outline.
L’Amour did not have every detail for a plot point in mind before writing the story. There are times when a writer has to rely on sheer creativity – and your characters might decide that they want to do something else than what you planned!
Writing with spontaneous vigour can be useful to a writer, too.
Where does your story want to go?
4. Good Writing Matters (To Your Readers)
‘Once you have read a book you care about, some part of it is always with you.’
Stories and books are never just words on a page. To readers, they are emotional vehicles that take them to a certain time or place – and if you can’t evoke the same while you are writing, you cannot achieve success.
Create writing that matters, that makes a difference, and that captivates your reader. Readers want to feel a text just as much as they want to read it.
It’s the classic writing rule of ‘show and don’t tell’ but said in a different way.
5. Let Your Writing Excite You
‘One day I was speeding along at the typewriter, and my daughter – who as a child at the time – asked me, ‘Daddy, why are you writing so fast?’ And I replied, ‘Because I want to know how the story turns out!”
Great writing has to excite and enthral the writer, just as much as it captivates the reader. Excellent stories are the ones which excites the person writing it.
Have you ever written a story where you couldn’t wait to find out what happens next? Have you ever penned a horror that made you look over your shoulder?
That’s what good writing is.
6. Great Writers Observe
‘All men look, but so few can see. It is all there, waiting for the passerby.’
While writers think different things about where their story ideas come from, L’Amour credited simple observation.
All the experiences a writer absorbs in their lifetime can be good substance for a story (or a scene). Just look with a writer’s mind, and you’ll see a thousand stories unfold all around you.
Ideas aren’t rare, but they can be difficult to find. Train your mind in how, and you’ll never be short of a fresh idea for the rest of your writing career.
The Last Word
I hope these bits of writing advice from Louis L’Amour help you with your writing.
Source for image
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, you will love:
- 7 Bits Of Writing Advice From John Irving
- 8 Bits Of Songwriting Advice (From Bestselling Songwriters)
- Diana Gabaldon’s 3 Rules For Writing Fiction
- 6 Bits Of Writing Advice From Isaac Asimov
- Chris d’Lacey’s Top 10 Writing Tips
- Lisa Genova’s 10 Rules Of Writing
- Writing Advice From The World’s Most Famous Authors
TIP: If you want help writing a book, buy The Novel Writing Exercises Workbook.