10 Editing Tips From Famous Authors (From Hemingway to Gaiman)

drawing of a typewriter

1

Write drunk, edit sober.” — Ernest Hemingway

2

It is with words as with sunbeams. The more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.“ — Robert Southey

3

The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” — Stephen King

4

As to the adjective, when in doubt, strike it out.“ — Mark Twain

5

Interesting verbs are seldom very interesting.“ — Jonathan Franzen

6

So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.” ― Dr. Seuss

7

Read your own compositions, and when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.“ — Samuel Johnson

8

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you are inclined to write ‘very’ and your editor will delete it and your writing will be just as it should be.“ — Mark Twain

9

If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” — Elmore Leonard

10

Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.“ — Neil Gaiman

***

Which is your favorite?

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42 thoughts on “10 Editing Tips From Famous Authors (From Hemingway to Gaiman)

  1. Loved it! I like all of them, Hemmingway hits the mark, the last one’s cheeky , Mark Twain is wise, Southey is right , Suess is clever. ok I go with Hemmingway 😉

  2. Thought provoking for sure , thank you ! ” Read your own compositions and when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine , strike it out ” . Samuel Jackson

  3. number 8 sounds fun and probably effective, while the effect number 10 had on keyoucircuit could help replace the first part of number 1 (if needs be)

  4. “Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.“ — Neil Gaiman
    I would say this is my favorite, at least for today 🙂

  5. “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you are inclined to write ‘very’ and your editor will delete it and your writing will be just as it should be.“ — Mark Twain
    Loved that one. It shows how overused, and often unnecessarily used, the word ‘very’ is. Thank you for the list.

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