The January 2010 issue of Writer's Digest celebrates its 90th anniversary with "90 Secrets of Bestselling Authors." Here are a few of my favorites:
"Being goal-oriented instead of self-oriented is crucial. I know so many people who want to be writers. But let me tell you, they really want to have been writers. They wish they had a book in print. They don't want to go through the work of getting the damn book out. There is a huge difference."
"A genuine creation should have character as well as be one; should have central heating, so to say, as well as exterior lighting."
"People do not spring forth out of the blue, fully formed--they become themselves slowly, day by day, starting from babyhood. They are the result of both environment and heredity, and your fictional characters, in order to be believable, must be also."
"To me, everything in a novel comes down to people making choices. You must figure out in advance what those choices are going to be."
Marion Zimmer Bradley
"Too many writers think that all you need to do is write well--but that's only part of what a good book is. Above all, a good book tells a good story. Focus on the story first. Ask yourself, 'Will other people find this story so interesting that they will tell others about it?' Remember: A bestselling book usually follows a simple rule, 'It's a wonderful story, wonderfully told'; not, 'It's a wonderfully told story.'"
"I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide."
"If you can teach people something, you've won half the battle. They want to keep on reading."
"In truth, I never consider the audience for whom I'm writing. I just write what I want to write."
Interesting! Harper Lee wrote a classic that is taught in classrooms throughout the country, yet speaks of the need for a thick skin. James Hilton, who created Mr. Chips, provides a priceless description of giving life to characters. As for "getting the damn book out" -- Michener wrote how many epic novels that encompassed hundreds of pages?
Also of interest...
The "Conference Scene" section of the January 2010 issue features "giants of the conference scene." The Willamette Writers Conference was one of the four listed. Willamette Writers is described as the "largest writers' organization in the Pacific Northwest" and the conference is "full of fun suprises." For the size of this conference, it is incredibly well run. The conference staff and volunteers, as well as the employees of the Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel do exemplary jobs.