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Advice to Writers: A Compendium of Quotes, Anecdotes, and Writerly Wisdom from a Dazzling Array of Literary Lights Paperback – May 9, 2000


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Advice to Writers: A Compendium of Quotes, Anecdotes, and Writerly Wisdom from a Dazzling Array of Literary Lights + Ernest Hemingway on Writing + On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; y First edition edition (May 9, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679763414
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679763413
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #228,780 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"The only way to write is well and how you do it is your own damn business." --A.J. Liebling

There are at least as many theories about writing as there are writers to expound them. In Advice to Writers Jon Winokur has collected some of the best bons mots ever penned on the literary life. In chapters covering such diverse topics as agents, publishers, critics, and process, Winokur lets writers speak for themselves--and often the advice is contradictory: "The professional guts a book through--in full knowledge that what he is doing is not very good. Not to work is to exhibit a failure of nerve," John Gregory Dunne opines. "It would be wisest not to worry too much about the sterile periods. They ventilate the subject and instill into it the reality of daily life," André Gide ripostes. There is advice on grammar and style, on dialogue, plot, and character, and also on topics such as occupational hazards and drink (surely a subset of those hazards). "Write first, drink later," Patrick McGrath suggests. "To write you must be warm, fed, loved and sober." (Poet and essayist Philip Larkin, on the other hand, advises, "Get stewed: Books are a load of crap.")

Novices looking for practical information on the nuts and bolts of the business may not find it here. On the other hand, advice from the likes of David Remnick, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Toni Morrison, Maxwell Perkins, Isaac Asimov, Samuel Johnson, Calvin Trillin, P.D. James, and many, many other professional scribes can serve to inspire. At the very least, this potpourri of words to the wise will keep the incipient writer amused between drafts. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Best advice I've ever received: Finish."  --Peter Mayle

"Cut out all those exclamation marks. An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke."  --F. Scott Fitzgerald

"Make your characters want something right away even if it's only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time."  --Kurt Vonnegut

More About the Author

Jon Winokur is the author of two dozen nonfiction books, including The Portable Curmudgeon (NAL, 1987) and its four sequels; Zen to Go (NAL, 1988 and Sasquatch, 2005); Advice to Writers (Pantheon, 1999); The Big Book of Irony (St. Martin's, 2007) and the critically acclaimed New York Times National Bestseller The Garner Files: A Memoir, co-authored with James Garner (Simon & Schuster, 2011). Winokur maintains the popular AdviceToWriters.com and @AdviceToWriters Twitter feed. He lives in Los Angeles.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 24, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Advice to Writers is Jon Winokur's finest book -- and that's saying something. Its already pulled me out of writer's block several times. I mean, its not exactly a self-help book, but the damn thing WORKS.
As a writer who suffers from chronic indolence, I'm keeping this book on my bedside table (since I'm indolent I work in bed) -- it makes me WANT to write.
Practical usage aside, its big fun, too. No one else has Winokur's delicious eye for quotes and their juxtapositions. This lovely book is caviar; all other "advice to writer" books are neurasthenic by comparison.
Bravo, Mr. Winokur, and thank you! When's the next one?
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dan Poynter VINE VOICE on October 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
Winokur has gathered advice on writing from more than 400 bibliophiles and categorized their recommendations into 36 sections. Most entries are short quotations. (For categories, click on Table of Contents in the left-hand column of this page.) Writers will love turning to the sections on agents, occupational hazards or punctuation to see what writers and other bookpeople have said about them.
Jon Winokur is an author and bibliophile who obviously loves his work.
As the author of 113 books (including revisions and foreign-language editions) and over 500 magazine articles, I recommend this book to writers. DanPoynter@ParaPublishing.com.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 30, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is a delightful mix of thoughtful, irreverent, cynical and joyful quotes, interspersed with occasional brief advice that is specific enough to be helpful. Well done!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 28, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Books about writing are usually self-important and affected. This one isn't.
Winokur dissects the writer's life and shows that it isn't all art and inspiration. He covers the nuts and bolts of publshing-from punctuation and plagiarism to literary prizes. But he also has a section on the creative process. Advice to Writers includes just about every kind of writer--journalists, humorists, historians, and sports writers--who all share their pithy wisdom on the business and craft of writing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 18, 1999
Format: Hardcover
As a writer and teacher of creative nonfiction, I hunger for a glimpse into the interior lives of authors. Do they feel as out of control or depressed as I sometimes do when facing a huge project? Do they suffer from writer's envy or writer's block? Finally, do they drink as much as I do?
Winokur's book is satisfying and addictive. By offering actual quotes from working writers, he manages to show the amazing breadth and depth of the torturous creative experience. Writing is more of a chronic condition than a profession: think of Advice to Writers as a self-help mental health book for the ink-stained wretches of the world.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 8, 1999
Format: Hardcover
For those of us familiar with Mr Winokur's literary tourbooks, Advice To Writers represents a welcome refuge and a haven of information regarding the literary bugaboos we all experience in our efforts to create a representative sampling of intelligence that would have value, in some form or fashion, to someone else - anyone else - for that matter.
And isn't it wonderful to know that our most frustrating issues were experienced by and dealt with by our most astonishing and enduring literary heroes.
Thanks to Mr. Winokur for providing us with the looking glass as we hopefully learn through the inciteful pain and suffering of the "literary lights" we so hope to emulate.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 1, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Jon Winokur, author of the divinely wicked Portable Curmudgeon, has compiled what amounts to the ultimate literary seminar for an aspiring writer. It's filled with advice from Russell Banks, Kurt Vonnegut, Peter Mayle and all the other literary stars you search for on Amazon.com and as a bonus you get Winokur's trademark wit. A perfect gift for all the liberal arts major graduates on your list.
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