Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Writing Advice from CS Lewis

In 1959, an American schoolgirl appealed to C. S. Lewis for writing advice, and he sent her a list of eight rules for good writing: Always write (and read) with the ear, not the eye. You shd. hear

1. Turn off the radio [and television].

2. Read good books and avoid most magazines.

3. Write with the ear, not the eye. Make every sentence sound good.
4. Write only about things that interest you. If you have no interests, you won't ever be a writer.
5. Be clear. Remember that readers can't know your mind. Don't forget to tell them exactly what they need to know to understand you.
6. Save odds and ends of writing attempts, because you may be able to use them later.
7. You need a well-trained sense of word-rhythm, and the noise of a typewriter will interfere.
8. Know the meaning of every word you use.

Source: C. S. Lewis. Collected Letters. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1966, 291-292. Quoted in Kathryn Lindskoog, Creative Writing for People Who Can't Not Write. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1989, 253. not sound nice, try again.


  1. I didn't realize you had started posting to this blog again! Welcome back!

  2. I was having some problems with #4 recently, but it all worked out.

  3. #1 is so true! I can't concentrate with music!(Unless I am writeing a war scene and listening to Lord of the Rings soundtrack)

  4. I like that list. I have three book ideas in my head... I suppose I should just start writing about it rather than thinking about it.