Category Archives: Commentary

Peter DeHaan’s commentary about the art of craft of writing.

Quotes from Great Writers: Learn, Grow, and Write

Great writers can teach us about writing and inspire us to write with excellence

Here are some of my favorite quotes from great writers and other famous people:

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” -Flannery O’Connor

“The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.” -Muriel Rukeyser

“Having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card.” -Marc Brown

“A word has power in and of itself. It comes from nothing into sound and meaning; it gives origin to all things.” -N. Scott Momaday

“If the real world were a book, it would never find a publisher. Overlong, detailed to the point of distraction-and ultimately, without a major resolution.” -Jasper Fforde

“Never give up…No one knows what’s going to happen next.” -L. Frank Baum

“Not all those who wander are lost.” -J.R.R. Tolkien

“Humanity lives in its fiction.” -Blaise Cendrars

“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.” -A.A. Milne

“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.” -Kurt Vonnegut

“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.” -Herman Melville

“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What one can be, one must be.” -Abraham Maslow

“If they give you ruled paper, write the other way.” -Juan Ramon Jimenez

“One day I was speeding along at the typewriter, and my daughter—who was a child at the time—asked me, ‘Daddy, why are you writing so fast?’ And I replied, ‘Because I want to see how the story turns out!’” -Louis L’Amour

“Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?” -Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” – Benjamin Franklin

I hope you enjoyed these quotes from great writers and other famous people. May these writing quotes inspire you to write with more joy and purpose.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

UR Turn: Are You on Instagram?

Share photos and videos with friends on Instagram

In past months we’ve talk about a lot of social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Goodreads, Google+, and Pinterest.  Another social media platform is Instagram, a place to share pictures and videos from your smart phone (and now computer).urUR Turn: are you on Instagram?

As far as social media sites go, it’s still a kid, launched on 2010. (And bought by Facebook a couple years later.)

It has a fresh, clean interface and is easy to use. It appeals to a younger demographic, with upwards of 800 million users worldwide. Many writers use Instagram to connect with their readers.

Are you on Instagram?

I am, but I’m a newbie. I post images and videos from my blog, along with book covers.

Maybe we can follow each other.

If you’re not on Instagram, check it out. Let’s follow each other on Instagram. Click To Tweet

Here’s my Instagram page.

Please share your Instagram link below. Then we can follow each other.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Quotes About Books and Reading

Check out these inspiring quotes about books and the value of reading

I recently shared some quotes about writing, and in the past I’ve published two other posts with quotes about writing here and here. My favorite of all these is what the Bible says about writing. Here are some quotes about books.

Here are some related sayings, not about writing as much as quotes about books and the importance of reading.

quotes about books

“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” – C.S. Lewis

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” -Frederick Douglass

“I read a book one day and my whole life was changed. “ -Orhan Pamuk

“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” -Margaret Fuller

“I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library.” -Jorge Luis Borges

“When I discovered libraries, it was like having Christmas every day.” -Jean Fritz

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” -Saint Augustine of Hippo

“When you read a book, you hold another’s mind in your hands.” -James Burke

“A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.” -Italo Calvino

“A book lying idle on a shelf is wasted ammunition,” -Henry Miller

“How marvelous books are, crossing worlds and centuries, defeating ignorance and, finally, cruel time itself.” -Gore Vidal

“A childhood without books – that would be no childhood. That would be like being shut out from the enchanted place where you can go and find the rarest kind of joy.” -Astrid Lindgren

“Books are the mirrors of the soul.” -Virginia Woolf

“I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in.” -Robert Louis Stevenson

“A writer is, after all, only half his book. The other half is the reader and from the reader the writer learns.” -P.L. Travers

With these writing quotes in mind, let’s go find a good book to read.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

UR Turn: Do You Post Videos on YouTube?

YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world

In past months we’ve talked about our presence on various social media sites.

Here’s my list: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Goodreads, and Google+. Let’s connect on your platform of choice.

UR Turn, Help me finish ths post by sharing...There’s also You Tube.

People gravitate to video.

As a writer, I don’t so much like this interest in video, but I have written video scripts for some of my clients, and it’s a lot of fun.

As a consumer, I like videos. They pop up on Facebook and Twitter, where they seem to capture people’s attention over images and text. (Again, not good news for writers.)

I have a You Tube channel. It has 41 videos on it. And I have a whopping two subscribers. (Maybe you can be number three!) Most of the videos are for my blog posts, which my VA embeds into my posts on my blog. My VA also creates the videos for me based on my text. She does a great job, so if you like them, it’s all because of her!You Tube is the second largest search engine in the world. Are you on You Tube? Click To Tweet

I also have a book trailer video for my book 95 Tweets. This reminds me. I need to make a trailer for my new book, How Big Is Your Tent? and my upcoming book, Women of the Bible. I’ll put that on my to do list.

Are you on You Tube? Do you post videos on You Tube? Do you have a You Tube Channel?

Please share in the comment section below.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Great Writing Quotes to Educate and Inform

We can find encouragement and instruction in reading great writing quotes

Two weeks ago I asked you to share your favorite quotes about writing.  Mine was “Omit needless words.” Here are some more great writing quotes.

Check out these quotes about writing.

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” -Toni Morrison

“If you don’t like someone’s story, write your own.” -Chinua Achebe

“Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I’d have the facts.” -Harper Lee

“You do have a story inside you; it lies articulate and waiting to be written—behind your silence and your suffering.” -Anne Rice

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” -Stephen King

“Writing is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as the headlights, but you make the whole trip that way.” -E. L. Doctorow

“Writing is the Latin of our times. The modern language of the people is video and sound.” -Lawrence Lessig

“Writing is thinking on paper.” -William Zinsser

“A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.” -William Faulkner

“If you write to impress it will always be bad, but if you write to express it will be good.” -Thornton Wilder

“You do have a story inside you; it lies articulate and waiting to be written—behind your silence and your suffering.” -Anne Rice

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” -Louis L’Amour

“Every writer I know has trouble writing,” -Joseph Heller

“A lot of people talk about writing. The secret is to write, not talk.” -Jackie Collins

“It is as easy to dream a book as it is hard to write one.” -Honore de Balzac, novelist

“Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.” -Stephen King

“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.” -Frank Herbert

“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.” -Gustave Flaubert

“Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.”Isaac Asimov

“Words were not given to man in order to conceal his thoughts.” -José Saramago

“I read hungrily and delightedly, and have realized since that you can’t write unless you read.” -William Trevor

“Puns are the highest form of literature.” -Alfred Hitchcock

And given that:

“To write with a broken pencil is pointless.” -unknown

“A backward poet writes inverse.” –unknown

Which one of these is your favorite? What would you add?

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

UR Turn: Favorite Writing Quotes

Quotes by writers about writing can teach, inspire and motivate us

UR Turn, Help me finish ths post by sharing...Last month we asked the question, Who’s your favorite author? This month we’ll look at what writers say about writing. What are your favorite writing quotes?

My absolute favorite writing quote is the concise, exemplary advice to “Omit needless words.” It comes from the classic book The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White.

(For the record, I think I follow this wise advice in my own writing but not as much when working for a client. Sometimes I need to hit a word count goal and having a few needless words help me get there faster. By the way, the best clients don’t insist on word count targets. They just tell me to cover the topic.)My favorite writing quote is to “Omit needless words.” What's your fav? Click To Tweet

Of course, there are many other quotes that likewise guide my writing and my work. In a few weeks I’ll share some of my other favorite writing quotes. But until then, please share some of yours.

If you don’t know the source, that’s okay. And if you need to paraphrase, no worries. The main thing is to share what helps you, because I’m sure it will help others, too.

Now it’s your turn. What are some of your favorite writing quotes?

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

UR Turn: Who’s Your Favorite Author?

We love some authors so much, that we buy every book they publish

UR Turn, Help me finish ths post by sharing...If you were to ask me who’s my favorite author, I’d shrug and say, “I don’t know.” However, that would be wrong. From my perspective one author rises above all others: Robin Mellom. I’ve gushed about her in the past.

I bought her debut novel, Ditched, which she re-published as Perfect Kiss. It’s a young adult rom-com (romantic comedy). I loved it so much, that I’ve gone on to read every book she’s published—except for her most recent one, which is on my Christmas wish list. I continue to read her books, even though most of them are middle grade fiction, which I typically don’t consider.

That covers my favorite fiction author. My favorite author: I’ll automatically buy her next book just because she wrote it. Click To Tweet

What about nonfiction? Though I’ve read multiple books from many nonfiction authors, none of them rises to the top to become a favorite. There are none of them who I’ll automatically buy their next book just because they wrote it. I’ll save that status for Robin.

That’s my story.

Now it’s your turn. Who’s your favorite author?

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

UR Turn: What’s the Most Encouraging Thing Anyone Has Ever Told You?

A simple word of encouragement can mean a lot to a writer

UR Turn, Help me finish ths post by sharing...As a person who uses words to make a living, words have a great impact on me. The words of others have encouraged me—and discouraged me. Even the lack of words, the things left unsaid, can have a powerful effect—a negative effect.

The things others have told me about my writing have helped me move forward, as well as almost derailing me. But let’s talk about the positive. Some of those comments have stayed with me for years.

Once, when working on a joint proposal for myself and another consultant, he reviewed my work and gushed. “I thought I was a good wordsmith,” he said, “but you put me to shame.” His remark truly affirmed me.

Another time, someone who I respected was reading my work. After a few minutes, she paused and said, “Well, you certainly know how to write, so that’s not an issue.” That was all the impetus I needed to think I could begin to call myself a writer.Maybe we use our words wisely. Click To Tweet

I have also had times when other writers have reminded me of encouraging things I’ve said to them. This, too, shows me the power of words. May I always use mine wisely.

Now it’s your turn. What’s the most encouraging thing anyone has ever told you about your writing?

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Is Following a Writing Model a Good Idea?

Though using a pattern to inform our books’ structure has merit, it may lead us to a troublesome end

Is Following a Writing Model a Good Idea?There are multiple guides we can follow to properly structure the books we write. Perhaps the most common is the three-act structure, but there are many others as well.

There’s enough to make me dizzy, so I won’t start to list them. Besides, this post isn’t to promote these various models as much as to share my concern about them.

For example, I know that when watching a movie, I should expect a plot twist about three fourths of the way into the show. The incident may be trivial, could have been telegraphed too much earlier in the movie, or come as an unexpected shock, but one thing is certain: I know that something is about to happen, so I brace for it.

Because I expect this plot twist to pop up, it seldom delights me. I know that this annoyance is just one more hurdle for the protagonist to jump over before I can enjoy the ending—and I better enjoy the ending.

This happens in books too, but because I’ve watched more movies then read books, I’m more tuned in to it with movies.

While I think it’s important we know about these writing devices and be able to apply them when needed, I worry about slavishly following them.

Why is that?

Computers.

Computers and artificial intelligence.It won’t be long before computers will write passible stories and even books. Click To Tweet

Even now computers can write. And it won’t be long before computers will write passible stories and even books. Just enter a couple of characters, a story arc, a conflict, and a few other key parameters. Press enter, and a finished story emerges, following an established writing model.

This technology will one day make most writers obsolete. And I think it will happen much sooner than most people expect.

What computers and AI software will have trouble emulating, however, is the truly creative writers who don’t follow the writing models that the computer programs follow. These writers—and I plan to be one of them—will still be in demand, because computers will struggle to produce a truly creative book that transcends its writing-model programming.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Are You Okay as a Writer?

It’s hard not to compare ourselves with other writers and dangerous when we do

Are You Okay as a Writer?As a teenager I remember reading the book I’m Okay—You’re Okay by Thomas Harris. As I recall, the book explained that we consider ourselves in one of two ways, either as being okay or as not being okay. Conversely, we judge others the same way, either as okay or not okay.

Combined, these two dichotomies result in four distinct perspectives of how we view and interact with others:

  1. I’m okay—you’re okay.
  2. I’m okay—you’re not
  3. I’m not okay—you’re okay.
  4. I’m not okay—you’re not

The first view is healthy, and the other three are not, with the book explaining what to do.

I fear a lot of writers struggle with the third scenario. They compare themselves to other writers—the popular, visible ones—and wrongly conclude everyone else is doing better than they are. By comparison they fall short, often way short.

I get this. I struggle with this from time to time. Perhaps you do, too.

We hear of writers who receive lucrative book deals with huge advances, ones we hoped for ourselves. We see authors who make some prestigious best sellers’ list or win a coveted award—sometimes on their first book—which we dream of for ourselves. Others have their books made into movies, which we yearn to experience. Then there are the indie authors who make six and even seven figures annually just on book sales, an outcome we secretly covet.

Then we feel small. Even our best accomplishment seems insignificant in comparison. Then that writer voice inside us says “They’re okay, but I’m not. They’re a success and I’m a failure.”Writers compare themselves to others and wrongly conclude everyone else is better. Click To Tweet

We need to stop that. It’s not healthy to our wellbeing, and it’s not helpful to our writing.

Instead of comparing ourselves with others, we need to compare ourselves to us. Ask two questions:

First, did I do the best I could with what I just wrote? If so, then be proud over our accomplishment.

The second question is, how could I do better? Pick one area, and set about to get better. Then our future self can look back at our present self with the firm knowledge over having improved. That’s success. Then we can say, “I’m okay.”

My hope for you is that you can truly say, “I’m okay—you’re okay.”

What steps do you take to avoid making unhealthy comparisons?

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!