An aphorism is nothing else but the slightest
form of writing raised to the highest level of expressive communication. Carl William Brown





Rides in the whirlwind and directs the storm.


Joseph Addison (1672-1719, British essayist, poet, statesman)


The work was like peeling an onion. The outer skin came off with difficulty... but in no time you'd be down to its innards, tears streaming from your eyes as more and more beautiful reductions became possible.


Edward Blishen (1920-, British actor)


Would you convey my compliments to the purist who reads your proofs and tell him or her that I write in a sort of broken-down patois which is something like the way a Swiss waiter talks, and that when I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it will stay split, and when I interrupt the velvety smoothness of my more or less literate syntax with a few sudden words of bar-room vernacular, that is done with the eyes wide open and the mind relaxed but attentive.


Raymond Chandler (1888-1959, American author)


I trust it will not be giving away professional secrets to say that many readers would be surprised, perhaps shocked, at the questions which some newspaper editors will put to a defenseless woman under the guise of flattery.


Kate Chopin (1851-1904, American author)


When in doubt, delete it.


Philip Cosby


An editor should tell the author his writing is better than it is. Not a lot better, a little better.


T. S. Eliot (1888-1965, American-born British poet, critic)


In art economy is always beauty.


Henry James (1843-1916, American author)


Read your own compositions, and when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.


Samuel Johnson (1709-1784, British author)


A writer is unfair to himself when he is unable to be hard on himself.


Marianne Moore (1887-1972, American poet)


If they have a popular thought they have to go into a darkened room and lie down until it passes.


Kelvin Mackenzie


What I have crossed out I didn't like. What I haven't crossed out I'm dissatisfied with.


Cecil B. De Mille (1881-1959, American film producer and director)


Remember the waterfront shack with the sign FRESH FISH SOLD HERE. Of course it's fresh, we're on the ocean. Of course it's for sale, we're not giving it away. Of course it's here, otherwise the sign would be someplace else. The final sign: FISH.


Peggy Noonan (1950-, American author, presidential speechwriter)


Editing is the same as quarreling with writers -- same thing exactly.


Harold Wallace Ross (1892-1951, American newspaper editor)


The waste basket is a writer's best friend.


Isaac Bashevis Singer (1904-1991, Polish-born American journalist,  writer)


An editor is someone who separates the wheat from the chaff and then prints the chaff.


Adlai E. Stevenson (1900-1965, American lawyer, politician)


There is but one art, to omit.


Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1895, Scottish essayist, poet, novelist)


Whether the flower looks better in the nosegay than in the meadow where it grew and we had to wet our feet to get it, is the scholastic air any advantage?


Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862, American essayist, poet, naturalist)


Editing should be, especially in the case of old writers, a counseling rather than a collaborating task. The tendency of the writer-editor to collaborate is natural, but he should say to himself, "How can I help this writer to say it better in his own style?" and avoid "How can I show him how I would write it, if it were my piece?"


James Thurber (1894-1961, American humorist, illustrator)


Words and sentences are subject to revision; paragraphs and whole compositions are subjects of prevision.


Barrett Wendell


There is a difference between a book of two hundred pages from the very beginning, and a book of two hundred pages which is the result of an original eight hundred pages. The six hundred are there. Only you don't see them.


Elie Wiesel (1928-, Rumanian-born American writer)


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