The “I wish I said that” page



You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.
Arthur Plotnik, American writer, editor

Human minds yield helplessly to the suction of story. No matter how hard we concentrate, no matter how deep we dig in our heels, we just can’t resist the gravity of alternate worlds.
Jonathan Gottschall

Whatever you want to say, there is only one noun to express it, one verb to animate it, and one adjective to qualify it.
Guy de Maupassant (1850–1893), French writer

The point of books is to combat loneliness.
David Foster Wallace (1962–2008), American author and professor

A room without books is like a body without a soul.
G.K. Chesterton (1874–1936), English author
BUT also attributed to Marcus Tullius Cicero

A house without books is like a room without windows.
The fortune in my cookie from Koi Chinese restaurant

Writing is easy; all you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead.
Gene Fowler (born Eugene Devlan) (1890–1960),
American journalist, author, and dramatist

These are not books, lifeless lumps of paper, but minds alive on the shelves.
Gilbert Highet (1906–1978)

The character that lasts is an ordinary guy with some extraordinary qualities.
Raymond Chandler (1888–1959),
American novelist and screenwriter

A character, to be acceptable as more than a chess piece, has to be ignorant of the future, unsure about the past, and not at all sure of what he’s supposed to be doing.
Anthony Burgess (1917–1993),
English author, poet, playwright, composer, linguist, translator, and critic

When I used to teach creative writing, I would tell the students to make their characters want something right away – even if it’s only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time.
Kurt Vonnegut (1922–2007),
American novelist

The books we read should be chosen with great care, that they may be, as an Egyptian king wrote over his library, “The medicines of the soul.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–1894),
American physician, poet, writer, humorist, and professor at Harvard

If you want to know your characters better, ask yourself: “How would they behave in a quarrel?”
Barnaby Conrad (1922– ),
American artist-author

Grasp the subject, the words will follow.
Cato the Elder (234–149 BCE),
Roman statesman, soldier, and writer

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.
Anton Chekhov (1860–1904),
Russian dramatist and short story writer

Whenever I have a little money I buy books; if there’s any left over, I buy food and clothes.
Erasmus (1466–1536),
Dutch humanist, educator, and editor

Remember / First to possess his books, for without them / He’s but a sot.
Shakespeare, The Tempest (III.ii.86–88)

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