Permalink for this post

On June 26, 1956, author C.S. Lewis responded to a fan letter from Joan Lancaster, a young Chronicles of Narnia enthusiast.

In a personalized thank-you letter, the writer imparted some simple and valuable stylistic advice for budding prose writers. 

1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.

2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them.

3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”

4. In writing. Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, “Please will you do my job for me.”

5. Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.

You can read the rest of the letter @ Letters of Notes

Blog comments powered by Disqus
  1. purpleronin reblogged this from ringmasters
  2. elliesreference reblogged this from henrydaughtry
  3. pagesfullofstars-moving reblogged this from pagesfullofstars
  4. beklemek reblogged this from musingsofysabella
  5. studiotr reblogged this from effervescentphilanthropist
  6. penofthedragon reblogged this from lokiscurls
  7. vvritingreferences reblogged this from writingreferences
  8. sweetxbitterxorxcaprexdiemx reblogged this from labellavita9
  9. chesnejuvenilia reblogged this from labellavita9
  10. msbossyleelee reblogged this from labellavita9
  11. labellavita9 reblogged this from eyefournyc
  12. wheniflippedover reblogged this from myheadisweak
  13. someonehiredme reblogged this from diamte
  14. exposedrawness reblogged this from susieeeeeq
  15. susieeeeeq reblogged this from diamte
  16. warumino reblogged this from diamte
  17. pcbeth reblogged this from diamte
  18. diamte reblogged this from fairydah
  19. silverdreamsblacknights reblogged this from alliswellfornow
  20. plzignorethecrow reblogged this from astraleprojektion
  21. sparar reblogged this from im-not-even-sure-yet

Talk to me