Writing Advice from Tom Clancy

Bestselling author Tom Clancy, a former insurance agent, wrote seventeen bestselling techno-thrillers (and almost single-handedly created the genre).

 

Tom Clancy 1Today, AuthorHouse would like to present some quotes from Mr. Clancy, in which some gems of writing advice can be found. After all, any author whose book was declared “the best yarn” by a U.S. president (Ronald Reagan on The Hunt for Red October) has something to teach us all.

 

And now, some words of wisdom from Mr. Clancy:

 

 

“The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.”

 

“The only way to write is to write. You can dream about writing, make notes, make outlines, or sketch out your characters all you want, but the book will not get written until you write it.”

 

“You learn to write the same way you learn to play golf. You do it, and keep doing it until you get it right. A lot of people think something mystical happens to you, that maybe the muse kisses you on the ear. But writing isn’t divinely inspired—it’s hard work.”

 

HfRO“Success is a finished book, a stack of pages each of which is filled with words. If you reach that point, you have won a victory over yourself no less impressive than sailing single-handed around the world.”

 

“Whenever somebody comes up with a good idea, there’s somebody else who has never had a good idea in his life who stands up and says, ‘Oh, you can’t do that.’”

 

[On writer’s block] ”I don’t even consider the possibility–if you think about it, it might happen!”

 

“Fundamentally, I think of myself as a storyteller, not a writer.”

 

“What success really means, I think, is looking failure in the face and tossing the dice anyway. You may be the only person who ever knows how the dice come up, but in that knowledge you have something that millions of people will never have—because they were afraid to try.”

 

“Two questions form the foundation of all novels: ‘What if?’ and ‘What next?’ (A third question, ‘What now?’, is one the author asks himself every 10 minutes or so; but it’s more a cry than a question.) Every novel begins with the speculative question, What if ‘X’ happened? That’s how you start.”

 

Tom Clancy Portraits“What happened to me was pure dumb luck – I’m not the new Hemingway. Of course, fortune does favor the brave. In battle, you forgive a man anything except an unwillingness to take risks. Sometimes you have to put it on the line. What I did was take time away from how I earned my living. My wife gave me hell – ‘Why are you doing this?’ – but she doesn’t complain anymore. I wanted to see my name on the cover of a book. If your name is in the Library of Congress, you’re immortal.”

 

“Nothing is as real as a dream. Responsibilities need not erase it. Duties need not obscure it. Because the dream is within you, no one can take it away.”

 

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