Just for Fun - Thoughts about Writing - Philip McShane - 12 Nov 01

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Here are two stories about Somerset Maugham on the craft of writing:

A young writer asked Somerset Maugham to tutor him in writing. Maugham replied that he would do it on one condition: that the aspiring writer write two hundred words a day -- every day. It didn't matter how he was feeling, whether he felt inspired or uninspired, wide awake or half asleep. Maugham wanted two hundred words a day.

Now, I am a long way from this myself, and I am not suggesting that everyone in the group write a contribution every day...

The second story (which was passed on to me by Anne Marie Lee) would seem to go in the opposite direction, recommending brevity:

Somerset Maughan once visited a girls boarding school to talk to the pupils about writing. He told them that the essential ingredients of a short story are: religion, sex, mystery, high rank, non-literary language and brevity. Next day, the teacher asked her pupils to write an essay according to this recipe. After a minute, one of the girls said she had finished. The teacher, was astonished at the speed of this and asked the girl to read her essay aloud. She did: "My God!" said the Duchess, "I'm pregnant! I wonder who done it."

-- Anonymous, November 12, 2001

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