7 Bits Of Writing Advice From Truman Capote
1. Write Daily
‘I was writing really sort of serious when I was about 11. I say seriously in the sense that like other kids go home and practice the violin or the piano or whatever, I used to go home from school every day, and I would write for about three hours. I was obsessed by it.’American Writers (American Biographies)
This little gem of advice is echoed throughout the writing society. If you want to be a writer – take this tip to heart. In order to build your ‘writers’ muscles,’ it is important to stay in practice.
If you chose any other skill, baseball, football, or playing a musical instrument as your life skill, then regular practice would be paramount to your success.
The same is true for writing.
Not every writer begins as young as Capote, but there is good advice to be found in what he said. Begin and end your days with languages and writing.
You want to be a writer, don’t you?
2. Develop Your Style
‘There is really no practical help that one can offer: it is a matter of self-discovery, of one’s own conviction, or working with one’s own work; your style is what seems natural to you. It is a long process of discovery, one that never ends. I am working at it, and will be as long as I live.’Too Brief a Treat: The Letters of Truman Capote
A writer’s style will continue to developtheir style and ‘voice’ on a continuing basis. For instance, if you read and study the Harry Potter Series, the growth of J.K. Rowling’s style increases with each book.
Developing your own style is sometimes difficult, but when you read Capote’s quote, you can see that it is a skill worth cultivating – and absolutely necessary.
It is going to take at least 10,000 hours to develop your style – another good reason to write every day. NEVER copy another writer’s style – strive for your own.
READING every day will allow you to absorb other writers’ skills and techniques – absorb the information like a sponge.
Capote admitted that he continued to develop his writing style – and this next quote makes the point of WHY putting in the hard work to develop your own is worth every minute.
3. Don’t Critique the Critic
‘Never demean yourself by talking back to a critic, never. Write those letters to the editor in your head, but don’t put them on paper.’Truman Capote: Conversations
Truman Capote received harsh criticism throughout his writing career. All writers will, and all writers do. The key thing is how the writer allows the critics to affect their future writing.
Keep your responses to critics private – especially if you are venting. Remain professional at all times.
4. Sometimes, Begin With Endings
‘I also write the last paragraph of a page or story first. That way I always know what I’m working towards.’New Again: Truman Capote (Interview Magazine)
Take some advice from Capote, and know where your story is going before writing it. You can either Write the last parts first, OR use a thorough outline.
Writers can stuggle by writing aimless and incoherent sentences, and might never have a plot.
5. Writing Is Creativity
‘That’s not writing, that’s typing.Conversations With Capote
Though Capote made this famous quote about another writer whom he didn’t much care for, these words can easily be for everyone. The quote can applied to the craft of writing in general.
In short, always use creativity, purpose, and employ your chosen language well. Without the creative spark, you’re not a writer, but a typist.
6. Learn The Short Story Well
‘When seriously explored, the short story seems to me the most difficult and disciplining form of prose writing extant. Whatever control and technique I may have I owe entirely to my training in this medium.’Truman Capote’s Previously Unknown Boyhood Tales by Philip Oltermann
It is important to ALWAYS remember that Short Stories are a specific writing art. Using the Shorty Story as a skill builder will allow ANY writer to train in their art. Writing short stories can train any writer (of fiction and non-fiction) in character creation, plotting, and other important skills.
Some of the lessons learned include forcing the writer to fit an excellent story arc into less space (or specific word count.)
Get to know the short story, no matter what you would like to write.
7. Know The Rules (Before Breaking Them)
‘Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade just as painting does, or music. If you are born knowing them, fine. If not, learn them. Then rearrange the rules to suit yourself.’1974 Interview in Paris Review (Summer Ed)
Rules are there to be learned. Once you know the rules, you can experiment with different styles and techniques (but first, always learn!). Capote would make his career from rearranging the rules of writing to create his own, unique style of storytelling.
Truman Garcia Capote (born 30 September 1924, died 25 August 1984) achieved acclaim for his true crime writing, and for his poetry and prose.
In Cold Blood was his last full-length novel. Capote continued writing short stories, and would live off his celebrity status until his death in the 1980s.
Capote was iconic, but it is far better to study his writing than mimic his lifestyle. Here are seven bits of writing advice from the great Truman Capote.