Writing and reading
Trollope enormous capacity for work included much on the skills of a writer.
Three hours a day will produce as much as a man ought to write.
She could write after a glib, commonplace, sprightly fashion, and had already acquired the knack of spreading what she knew very thin, so that it might cover a vast surface. She had no ambition to write a good book, but was painfully anxious to write a book that the critics should say was good.
There is no way of writing well and also of writing easily.
He had surrounded himself with his papers, had gotten his books together and read up his old notes, had planned chapters ... revelled in those paraphernalia of work which are so dear to would-be working men; and then nothing had come of it.
It would not suffice ... to scrape together a few facts, to indulge in some fiction, to tell a few anecdotes, and then to call his book a biography.
A pleasant letter I hold to be the pleasantest thing that this world has to give. It should be good-humoured; witty it may be, but with a gentle diluted wit. Concocted brilliancy will spoil it altogether. Not long so that it be tedious in the reading; nor brief, so that the delight suffice not to make itself felt.
There are men who never dream of a great work ... But the men are many ... who adopt the task, who promise themselves the triumph, and then never struggle at all. The task is never abandoned; but days go by and weeks; and then months and years, and nothing is done. The dream of youth becomes the doubt of middle life, and then the despair of age.
An author can hardly hope to be popular unless he can use popular language ... But all this must be learned and acquired, not while he is writing ... but long before. His language must come from him as music comes from the rapid touch of the great performer's fingers.
Editors of newspapers are self-willed, arrogant, and stiff-necked, a race of men who believe much in themselves and little in anything else, with no feelings of reverence or respect for matters which are august enough to other men.
The habit of writing clearly soon comes to the writer who is a severe critic to himself.
Perhaps no terms have been so injurious to the profession of the novelist as those two words, hero and heroine.
The true picture of life as it is, if it could be adequately painted, would show men what they are, and how they might rise, not, indeed, to perfection, but one step first, and then another on the ladder.
Newspaper editors sport daily with the names of men of whom they do not hesitate to publish almost the severest words that can be uttered; but let an editor be himself attacked, even without his name, and he thinks that the thunderbolt of heaven should fall upon the offender.
Leave-takings in novels are as disagreeable as they are in real life ... What novelist ... can impart an interest to the last chapter of his fictitious history? ... Do I not myself know that I am at this moment in want of a dozen pages, and that I am sick with cudgelling my brains to find them?
The end of a novel, like the end of a children's dinner-party, must be made up of sweetmeats and sugar-plums.
A novel should give a picture of common life enlivened by humour and sweetened by pathos ... To my thinking, the plot is but the vehicle ... when you have the vehicle without the passengers, a story of mystery in which the agents never spring to life, you have but a wooden show.
Dialogue is generally the most agreeable part of a novel.
When I sit down to write a novel I do not at all know, and I do not very much care, how it is to end.
If a man have not acquired the habit of reading till he be old, he shall sooner in his old age learn to make shoes than learn the adequate use of a book.
That I can read and be happy while I am reading, is a great blessing. Could I have remembered, as some men do, what I read, I should have been able to call myself an educated man.
Literary criticism has in the present day become a profession, but it has ceased to be an art.
Of course there was a Great House at Allington. How otherwise should there have been a Small House?