How to write like Ray Bradbury

One of the best resources for writers is the Paris Review and its unparalleled range of interviews with everyone from Ernest Hemingway to Stephen King. Its latest subject is Ray Bradbury, one of the greats of science fiction and the author of books including The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451 and Something Wicked This Way Comes. He is also a successful screenwriter, including several episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and John Huston’s adaptation of Moby-Dick. Here are five of the best quotes from the interview:

  1. Jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down.
  2. Every time you write for anyone, regardless of who they are, no matter how right the cause you may believe in, you lie. Steinbeck is one of the few writers out of the thirties who’s still read, because he didn’t write for causes at all. He wrote human stories that happened to represent causes indirectly.
  3. Style is truth. Once you nail down what you want to say about yourself and your fears and your life, then that becomes your style and you go to those writers who can teach you how to use words to fit your truth.
  4. The novel is hard to write in terms of keeping your love intense. It’s hard to stay erect for two hundred days. So, get the big truth first. If you get the big truth, the small truths will accumulate around it.
  5. If you’re not careful in tragedy, one extra rape, one extra incest, one extra murder and it’s hoo-haw time all of a sudden.

Finally —

I have three rules to live by. One, get your work done. If that doesn’t work, shut up and drink your gin. And when all else fails, run like hell.

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