Tuesday Two-Minute Writing Tip – Ten Writing Tips from Famous Authors

Got two minutes? Then check out this week’s quick tip ~ A collection of some of my favorite writing advice

Hello and welcome…I am a freelance editor and an editor for The Wild Rose Press, as well as an author. I often struggle with my own writing, and I have found that sometimes, a little reminder of ways to improve the process can be helpful, so, I like to share these moments of brilliance with others :). But, in this busy world of ours, who has time for pages and pages of writing tips? That’s why I’ve condensed mine down to quick flashes you can read in (approximately) two minutes. Enjoy…


Disclaimer: All of my tips are suggestions, and are only my opinion. And, for the most part, there are exceptions when going against my advice will make your story read better. Take what works, leave the rest.

Today I’m sharing tips from people who know a little something about writing. Not only are these valuable tips, but being reminded that even the most successful authors suffer from some of the same issues I do gives me the encouragement to forge on.

  1. Imagine that you are dying. If you had a terminal disease would you finish this book? Why not? The thing that annoys this 10-weeks-to-live self is the thing that is wrong with the book. So change it. Stop arguing with yourself. Change it. See? Easy. And no one had to die.– Anne Enright 

I love this one because it makes you stop and think about whether you want to waste time writing to a trend and/or forcing yourself to write something that doesn’t speak to you, doesn’t inspire you. I say, you do not.

  1. 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 

This doesn’t count your editors…you should always listen to us. 😉

  1. Write drunk, edit sober.– Ernest Hemingway

Although I think several writers take this literally, to me it means to write with abandon, lose your inhibitions, write freely and just get the story down. 

  1. Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.– Mark Twain

Yes, using ‘very’ is one of my pet peeves. It’s okay in dialogue, and perhaps used sparingly, but it’s ineffectual and weak. If you’re using it, you could probably substitute the following word for something stronger.

  1.  “The first draft of everything is shit.” – Ernest Hemingway

This doesn’t apply to all you perfectionists who have to get every scene just right before moving on. But, for those of us who need to just finish the damn book so we can begin revising, this is critical. If Ernest Hemingway wrote shit, then we’re not too good to write shit, correct? 

  1. “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” – Anton Chekhov 

LOVE this. It’s an excellent way to remind yourself to ‘show’ instead of ‘tell.’

  1. “Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.” Elmore Leonard

Thank you!!! The overuse of exclamation points in fiction drive me nuts. Readers will know they’re experiencing an intense moment by the emotion, dialogue, and action. Don’t hit them over the head with exclamation points.

  1. “If you tell the reader that Bull Beezley is a brutal-faced, loose-lipped bully, with snake’s blood in his veins, the reader’s reaction may be, ‘Oh, yeah!’ But if you show the reader Bull Beezley raking the bloodied flanks of his weary, sweat-encrusted pony, and flogging the tottering, red-eyed animal with a quirt, or have him booting in the protruding ribs of a starved mongrel and, boy, the reader believes!” – Fred East

Another fabulous tip for showing vs telling. This one deals with character rather than setting, and showing vs telling is important enough to get two mentions. 🙂

  1. “You don’t write about the horrors of war. No. You write about a kid’s burnt socks lying in the road.” ― Richard Price

To me this means a few things, make it personal. Make us care about something because of the characters involved. Also, show us little vivid details to really bring the scene to life.

10. “Good writing is often about letting go of fear and affectation.” Stephen King

YES. I often let fear stop me, but I need to remind myself not to. Also, the simplest, most direct and natural way you can convey a story is the right way. That’s your voice.

What are some of your favorite tips from famous authors?

Until next time…Happy Writing!


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(Click on the cover to be taken to the Amazon Buy Page)

2 minute writing tip final



*** If you would like to send me a few sample pages (around 7500 words or so, even though I will not edit that many on the blog. It just gives me more to choose from) for me to edit and share on an upcoming blog post, please do so in the body of an email to AliciaMDean@aol.com. Please use the subject line: “Blog Submission” This is for published or unpublished authors. In the email, please include whether you would like me to use your name or keep it anonymous, and whether or not you would like me to include any contact info or buy info for your books. Also, you can let me know if you would like for me to run my edits by you before posting on the blog. Please keep in mind, this is for samples to use for blog posts. I will not edit or use samples from all the submissions I receive, but I will use as many as possible. 



How to write a novel? That is the question. There are probably as many answers to that question as there are people who ask it.

Wanting to write and actually doing it are two very different things. I am well acquainted with the sometimes grueling process of churning out a story. Over the years, I have tried many methods for creating and completing manuscripts, and have tweaked and honed it down to a workable (for me) process.

Using specific examples from one of my own novels, Without Mercy, I share my method in this mini how to book. The first eight steps actually deal with plotting while the last two are designed to help expand your outline into a well-developed draft. There is no one, perfect way to create a story, but there will be a method, or methods that work for you. I’m not sure if this is the one, but it works for me. Only you can decide if it also works for you. Fingers crossed that it does!

*** Warning – Please do not purchase without reading a sample. (This is solid advice for any book, fiction or non. If you are not intrigued in the sample, you will likely not enjoy the book)

Amazon: Click Here


Filed under For Writers, Promo Tips, Tips from an Editor, Tuesday Two-Minute Tips

16 responses to “Tuesday Two-Minute Writing Tip – Ten Writing Tips from Famous Authors

  1. Great tips, as always! You’ve named a few quotes that I often refer to- love them!


  2. coryellsusan

    Love these tips and have one to add by, I believe, William Faulkner when asked how he deals with writer’s block. He said: “I just lower my standards and keep writing.” There’s always tomorrow to delete–right?


  3. Awesome tips. Thanks so much.


  4. Some of those incredible showing vs. telling tips. Goes from an “Oh, yeah,” to And, yes, you should definitely always listen to your editor. 🙂


  5. Just noticed that post left out something. Try it again. Goes from an “Oh, yeah,” to an audible gasp. (I previously used some of those little enclosure marks FROWNED UPON by WordPress.


  6. Fantastic tips and analysis. I really liked what you said about Richard Price’s tip — about making it personal. That to me is the joy of reading, that element that pulls you into a story so deeply, you forget where you are. And the one by Anton Chekhov is perfect, isn’t it? I’m going to print this one and hang it over my desk! Thank you, Alicia.


  7. Diane Burton

    Love #3. Hemingway knew how to write tight. Great post, Alicia.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. All great advice, Alicia. #6 is my fave.


  9. Yes, 6 is great…so glad you stopped by!


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