F. Scott Fitzgerald is often portrayed as a natural-born writer. "His talent," says Ernest Hemingway in A Moveable Feast, "was as natural as the pattern that was made by the dust on a butterfly's wings." But Fitzgerald saw himself in a different light. "What little I've accomplished," he said, "has been by the most laborious and uphill work."
Last week we brought you Seven Tips From Ernest Hemingway on How to Write Fiction. Today we're back with a similar list of advice from Hemingway's friend and rival Fitzgerald. We've selected seven quotations from F. Scott Fitzgerald on Writing, which was edited by Larry W. Phillips and published in 1985 as a companion to the Hemingway book. As in the previous post, we've organized the advice under our own headings and added some brief commentary.
1: Start by taking notes.
Fitzgerald made a habit of recording his stray thoughts and observations in notebooks. He organized the entries into categories like "Feelings and emotions," "Conversations and things overheard" and "Descriptions of girls." When Fitzgerald was giving writing advice to his mistress Sheilah Graham in the late 1930s, he advised her to do the same. In her 1940 memoir, Beloved Infidel, Graham quotes Fitzgerald as saying:
You must begin by making notes. You may have to make notes for years.... When you think of something, when you recall something, put it where it belongs. Put it down when you think of it. You may never recapture it quite as vividly the second time.
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