Happy Birthday, Noah Lukeman, born 28 November 1973.
- I am always more impressed by simplicity, clarity; it is the mark of a writer who knows his subject well and is secure enough not to ‘lay it on’ in the telling. Aim for complexity of thought, not expression.
- Reading a stretch of dialogue is like stretching one’s legs after a long car ride: it gives readers the renewed vigour they need to get back onto the road, into the thick world of prose.
- Subtlety is the mark of confidence and is thus by far the hardest thing for a writer to achieve.
- We must remember that reading is as much about education as it is entertainment, and even small flourishes can help serve this function and add a whole new dimension to a text.
- Unfortunately, these days, ‘literary’ writing seems to have become synonymous with ‘showy’ writing, writing that is beautiful but doesn’t tell a story. This is a misguided trend. If today’s ‘literary’ writers would look back only one or two hundred years at real literary writers like Dostoyevsky, Poe, Conrad, Melville, they would find momentous stories—not just pretty writing—at the core of almost all of their great works.
- Writing is about simplicity and clarity, and the best way to achieve this is to allow each thought its own sentence.
- Unless you wish your writing to seem juvenile or empty-headed, follow this rule: Never use an exclamation point when another mark will serve adequately and properly.
- There is an underlying rhythm to all text. Sentences crash and fall like the waves of the sea, and work unconsciously on the reader. Punctuation is the music of language. As a conductor can influence the experience of a song by manipulating its rhythm, so can punctuation influence the reading experience, bring out the best (or worst) in a text. By controlling the speed of a text, punctuation dictates how it should be read.
- Your creativity should be expressed through your writing, not your font.
- ‘What is your book about?’ Can you answer that question quickly and definitively in 10 seconds or less? If not, why not? The answer to this will be the key to finding the right synopsis for your plot.
Noah Lukeman is an American literary agent, actor, script-writer and author of works about writing and literature. His books include A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation and The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile.
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