Literary Birthday – 14 September – Anne Bernays

Happy Birthday, Anne Bernays, born 14 September 1930.

Five Quotes

  1. You must be able to step inside your character’s skin and at the same time to remain outside the dicey circumstances you have manoeuvred her into.
  2. I can’t remember how many times I advised students to stop writing the sunny hours and write from where it hurts: No one wants to read polite. It puts them to sleep.
  3. You can teach almost anyone determined to learn them the basics required to write sentences and paragraphs that say what you want them to say clearly and concisely. It’s far more difficult to get people to think like a writer, to give up conventional habits of mind and emotion.
  4. Nice writing isn’t enough. It isn’t enough to have smooth and pretty language.
  5. Provoke the reader. Astonish the reader. Writing that has no surprises is as bland as oatmeal. Surprise the reader with the unexpected verb or adjective. Use one startling adjective per page.

Anne Bernays is an American novelist, editor, and teacher. She is the author of nine novels, including Professor Romeo and Growing Up Rich, and co-author of What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers, one of the most widely used guides to creative writing. She teaches fiction writing at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard.


by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 14th September 2013