James Salter’s 12 rules for writing, from his  personal notebook     “To copy truth may be a good thing, but to invent truth is much better.”                        – Verdi     TACT    Don’t feel obliged to write sentences.  No life is interesting that isn’t serious.   Write for readers like yourself.   Like Turgenev – that simplicity of telling that one trusts + loves.  Describe – digress –  MAKE LEAPS  (Forster!!!)                                    Open chapter beautifully  Don’t write something they will recognise & accept. Write something that will astonish, that is completely different from their ideas + world + will alter them  NO FINE WRITING  Do not   insist  .                                                                                             Do not over-adorn.  Brief, lucid, mercilessly clear.  Do not endorse narrowness, lack of intelligence. Instead, concentrate on what they   do   know, their grace, valour, the glint of true light.  No “INTELLECTUAL” conversation/digressions, either from them or you.    “What distinguishes a classic from an ordinary book is authority and to write with this degree of authority you have to have a great deal to say and no hesitation about how it is to be said.”  – William Maxwell

James Salter’s 12 rules for writing, from his personal notebook

“To copy truth may be a good thing, but to invent truth is much better.”                     – Verdi

  1. TACT
  2. Don’t feel obliged to write sentences.
  3. No life is interesting that isn’t serious.
  4. Write for readers like yourself.
  5. Like Turgenev – that simplicity of telling that one trusts + loves.
  6. Describe – digress – MAKE LEAPS (Forster!!!)                                    Open chapter beautifully
  7. Don’t write something they will recognise & accept. Write something that will astonish, that is completely different from their ideas + world + will alter them
  8. NO FINE WRITING
  9. Do not insist.                                                                                             Do not over-adorn.
  10. Brief, lucid, mercilessly clear.
  11. Do not endorse narrowness, lack of intelligence. Instead, concentrate on what they do know, their grace, valour, the glint of true light.
  12. No “INTELLECTUAL” conversation/digressions, either from them or you.

“What distinguishes a classic from an ordinary book is authority and to write with this degree of authority you have to have a great deal to say and no hesitation about how it is to be said.” – William Maxwell