C.S. Lewis’ Writing Tips

So far I haven’t mentioned the tremendous impact Lewis has had on me.  He is by far the must influential in terms of my writing, and to those of you interested in writing, check out these tips the master gave to other aspiring authors.  The first tip regards developing style:

The way for a person to develop a style is (a) to know exactly what he wants to say, and (b) to be sure he is saying exactly that.

The reader, we must remember, does not start by knowing what we mean. If our words are ambiguous, our meaning will escape him.

I sometimes think that writing is like driving sheep down a road. If there is any gate open to the left or the right the reader will most certainly go into it.

And these last bits of advice was directed to a girl who mailed a letter asking for writing advice:

1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.

2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them.

3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”

4. In writing. Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the things you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us the thing is “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers “Please, will you do my job for me.”

5. Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.

If you’re an avid Lewis reader, you probably will notice he actually uses these tips in his books!  I’d recommend you write without implementing (oops, did those tips say something about not using “implement”?) the advice, then use the tips and compare the two pages.  You’ll probably notice a difference (unless, of course, C.S. Lewis read this post!).

By the way, these hints come from a book called C.S. Lewis: Letters to Children.

How We Coauthor Fiction

Hello again!  Today I want to discuss how Daniel and I coauthor fantasy novels together.  Now, although it’s not unheard of,  it’s quite atypical to hear of coauthoring fiction.  Sure, nearly every chem text you read is written by about 17.3 authors, but fiction is different.  How does that work?

Well, many people feel using an outline to plan your work is limiting, but we believe it’s freeing.  Without an outline, it would be impossible for the two of us to write well with everything coinciding with everything else.

So we usually develop a rigorous outline before we even get started, and normally if we are writing at the same time together, we will switch off when one’s creative juices seem to be dry.  Then, the person who isn’t writing just edits what the writer writes.  It’s actually quite a simple process.  Here are the major pros and cons of this method:



  1. You get to know the coauthor really well(maybe too well!)
  2. You get two insider opinions
  3. It takes less time
  4. If you feel like not working, the other will encourage you to work, so it has accountability built in
  5. You can focus on your strengths


  1.  Frankly, if you don’t like your coauthor,  that’s really bad because you’re around him all the time
  2. There’s more debating
  3. Sadly, it’s not my way or the highway
  4. You have to plan everything meticulously so everything fits together

I honestly feel that coauthoring fiction is awesome, and I’d recommend it to you once you weigh the pros and cons.

Go Fantasy!