Award-winning author DiAnn Mills is a fiction writer who combines an adventuresome spirit with unforgettable characters to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. DiAnn’s first book was published in 1998. She currently has more than fifty books published. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists and have won placements through the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Carol Awards and Inspirational Reader’s Choice awards. DiAnn won the Christy Award in 2010 and 2011. DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Romance Writers of America, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also the Craftsman mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. Website: www.diannmills.com
The Best of the Best
I’m always looking for the next best writer quote, a twist of a phrase that fires me into my writing project. The right quote makes me giggle, and other times a quote sobers me to my calling. Or causes me to work harder.
This month I want to share with you a few of my favorite quotes from writers I admire and respect. These are in alphabetical order—I’m the organizational type. Wonder if there’s a quote for my disease?
Some of them I use italics to tell why the quote inspires me.
“Do not send a reader to the dictionary more than once in any given book.” John Berendt
Why toss a reader out of an adventure by using words the average person doesn’t know?
“Write as though your pants were on fire and there’s no ice cubes in the tray.” Peter Bray
“Fear is the signal that we’re about to touch the edge of what we need to write.” Jeff Burdick
In writing suspense, I need to take my characters and readers into the fear zone, which means I have to experience it first.
“Technique alone is never enough. You have to have passion. Technique alone is just an embroidered pot holder.” Raymond Chandler
“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” Marcus Tullius Cicero
“Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader—not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.” E.L.Doctorow
I want readers to experience everything my characters encounter.
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Albert Einstein
“It is much easier to write from pain than happiness because painful situations go the deepest.” Gloria Estefan
Love this quote! When we write from our pain, the character and the reader sheds tears.
“Writing a novel is not merely going on a shopping expedition across the border to an unreal land: it is hours and years spent in the factories, the streets, the cathedrals of the imagination.” Janet Frame
“It was . . . a lady novelist who remarked to me once that writing novels was a cannibal's art, in which one often mixed small portions of one’s friends and one’s enemies together, seasoned them with imagination, and allowed the whole to stew together into a savory concoction.” Diana Gabaldon
“The bad novelist constructs his characters; he directs them and makes them speak. The true novelist listens to them and watches them act; he hears their voices even before he knows them.” Andre Gide
Oh, the value of deepening characterization. After all, it’s not our story.
“What we want is a story that starts with an earthquake and works its way up to a climax.” Samuel Goldwyn
“Language does not always have to wear a tie and lace-up shoes.” Stephen King
“It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way!” Ernest Hemingway
I need to frame this one.
“If my family didn’t want me to write about them, they should’ve behaved better.” Anne Lamott
“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” Jack London
Sometimes a knife and gun helps.
“When you sell a man a book, you don’t sell him twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue—you sell him a whole new life.” Christopher Morley
“A writer begins by breathing life into his characters. But if you are very lucky, they breathe life into you.” Caryl Phillips
And inspire you to be a better person.
“You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.” Arthur Polotnik
Can’t say it any better than this.
“Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.” Anne Sexton
“The profession of book-writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.” John Steinbeck.
There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up a pen to write.” William Makepeace Thackeray
“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” H. D. Thoreau
This is my favorite.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these quotes and have been inspired to get back to the keyboard and work on your fiction project. How about starting your own file of writer quotes? Share them with your friends. Post the most special one above your computer screen.
Wisdom will make you a better writer.
The Survivor (March 2013)