For one hundred days, I’m going to post a writing tip each day. I have a whole bookshelf full of writing books and I want to do some reading and increased studying of this valuable resource. This will help me keep track of anything I’ve learned, and help motivate me to keep going. If anyone has a favorite tip of their own to add, contact me. I’d love to put it up here.
Today’s tip – To get started, write one true sentence
Source – Earnest Hemmingway, from A Moveable Feast
Sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going, I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made. I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, “Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone say. If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut that scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written.
Like a lot of people, I finally made it around to read A Moveable Feast after the attacks in Paris. I have loved Hemmingway’s fiction, especially his short stories, for a long time. I have always admired his economy of words more than anything. The idea of a memoir about the halcyon days in Paris between the wars always felt too precious for my taste, so I didn’t read it until recently. I was wrong.
Among other things, there is so much good writing advice in A Moveable Feast. The pages spell out in detail Hemmingway’s method of writing, including his habit of writing in cafes.
And a few hints… like this one today.