writers tips / writing

Writers Tip #65: 7 Tips from Joyce Carol Oates

writers tips

Great tips for soon-to-be great writers

When you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong? Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. These writer’s tips will come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make the adjustments.

Today’s tip:Advice from Joyce Carol Oates.

Joyce Carol Oates is the author of over fifty novels, won the National Book Award, and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Here are her seven top tips:

  1. Don’t try to anticipate an ‘ideal reader’. There may be one, but s/he is reading someone else.
  2. Don’t try to anticipate an ‘ideal reader’ except for yourself perhaps, sometime in the future
  3. Be your own editor/critic. Sympathetic but merciless
  4. Unless you are writing something very avant-garde, all gnarled, snarled and obscure, be alert for possibilities of paragraphing
  5. Unless you are writing something very post-modernist–self-conscious, self-reflexive and provocative–be alert for possibilities of using plain familiar words in place of polysyllabic ‘big’ words
  6. Keep in mind Oscar Wilde: A little sincerity is a dangerous thing and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal
  7. Keep a light, hopeful hear. But expect the worst.

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2 thoughts on “Writers Tip #65: 7 Tips from Joyce Carol Oates

  1. Excellent tips and I love 1 and 2 because I am so tired of the know your ideal reader shtick. It isn’t so cut and dry… Unless we’re running a writers conference for a specific professional group. 🙂


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