Sunday, January 5, 2014

Writers Must Be Merciless

The British writer Arthur Quiller-Couch said it bluntly: "Kill your darlings!" When we fall in love with our words we may end up writing something bad. America's famous teacher of style, William Strunk, stated: "Vigorous writing is concise... A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts." My late father, a journalist and a gifted illustrator, spent days bent over his drawing paper, redrawing the same picture over and over again as he tried to reduce the lines needed. It took me a life of writing to understand why he did this.

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