for writers and readers….

10 things Hilary Mantel knows about writing Quotes for Writers (and people who like quotes)

This list is an extract from a post by Hilary Mantel, the international bestselling author, and seems like a good and thought-provoking way to start the new year. It originally appeared in the blog for The Story Prize. The Story Prize is an annual book award for short story collections written in English and published in the U.S. during a calendar year. For more information, go to

Quotes for writers

Ten things I’ve learned….since I started writing my first novel, in 1974 (which feels like yesterday). Ten things to think about, or ten rules I try to keep: I won’t call them advice, as I’d hardly presume to give it.

  1. If you see a problem in your narrative, go there fast. Head for the point of danger. It’s where the energy is.

    2. Free up your creativity: Liberate it from your expectations and experience. When you have an idea, don’t assume it’s a novel or story, just because that’s your usual medium. It might be a play, poem, song, or movie. Who knows, it might be best expressed as garden design. Or maybe you should knit it?

    3.  If the rhythm of your prose is broken, read poetry.

    4.  Cut every page of dialogue by one-third.

    5.  If a phrase troubles you, strike it out, and if there seems no alternative, try simple omission. If you are dubious about it in your manuscript, you’ll shrink from it in the printed book.

    6.  If you don’t know how your story ends, don’t worry. Press on, in faith and hope.

    7.  If you see a habit forming, break it.

    8.  Control where the story starts. In a novel, don’t put anything important—like a clue—before “Chapter One.” Prefaces, epigraphs: 90% of readers ignore them.

    9.  When you break through, not everyone close to you will enjoy your success. Accept this.

    10.  Writing for the theatre is the most fun.

photo credit: T_Marjorie via photopin cc

2 comments on “10 things Hilary Mantel knows about writing Quotes for Writers (and people who like quotes)

  1. philipparees
    January 4, 2015

    Great advice! Liberating, disciplined.

  2. Carol Balawyder
    January 4, 2015

    Although Hilary Mantel doesn’t want to call her quotes advice, her ten rules are very motivating. Thanks, Bridget for posting this and for the link to the story prize.

    For a view of Hilary Mantel’s writing space you can visit a post I wrote on that at:

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This entry was posted on January 4, 2015 by in Muse, Quotes and tagged , , .


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