I’ve just started a book on writing entitled Good Prose by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd. I could tell in the first few pages that the writers were kindred spirits. Here are just a few of the quotes from the first chapter. Unfortunately it is a library book so I can’t underline all of the wonderful thoughts in it. I’ll just have to share some with you all instead.
“Beginnings are an exercise in limits. You can’t make the reader love you in the first sentence or paragraph, but you can lose the reader right away. You don’t expect the doctor to cure you at once, but the doctor can surely alienate you at once, with brusqueness or bravado or indifference or confusion. There is a lot to be said for the quiet beginning.”
“Expansiveness is not denied to anyone, but it is always prudent to remember that one is not Tolstoy or Dickens and to remember that modesty can resonate, too.”
“Clarity isn’t an exciting virtue, but it is a virtue always, and especially at the beginning of a piece of prose.”
‘With good writing the reader enjoys a doubleness of experience, succumbing to the story or the ideas while also enjoying the writer’s artfulness. Indeed, one way to know that writing deserves to be called art is the coexistence of these two pleasures in the reader’s mind.”
“Journalists are instructed…to make sure they tell the most important facts of the story first. This translates poorly to longer forms of writing. The heart of the story is usually a place to arrive at, not a place to begin. Of course the reader needs a reason to continue, but the best reason is simply confidence that the writer is going someplace interesting.”
The heart of the story is usually a place to arrive at, not a place to begin. I love this thought!
This is going to be a good book. I can feel it in my bones.