Martin Amis's basic advice that every writer should follow

The world of letters has been mourning the death of Martin Amis since last Saturday.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
22 May 2023 Monday 22:55
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Martin Amis's basic advice that every writer should follow

The world of letters has been mourning the death of Martin Amis since last Saturday. Considered the reinventor of British narrative in the 80s and 90s, the British writer is known for works such as Money, London Fields and Night Train, applauded by both critics and readers, with whom he always tried to maintain a relationship. close relationship. So much so that he shared his most personal experiences with them in the book From Within (Anagram). In these novelized memoirs, in addition to recalling his experiences and evoking important people for him, he reflects on writing, which he defines as "the art of telling and giving meaning to stories."

The guidelines and suggestions that he provided were such and so valuable that the book did not take long to become an indispensable manual for every writer's apprentice and for anyone who wanted to get the most out of literature, memory, and life. These days there are several followers who reread their advice and share it on the networks. A gesture that Amis himself would most likely sympathize with. We collect some of them:

Amis did not understand writing as something corseted, quite the contrary. For him, the pen was synonymous with freedom and he understood that this should also be the case for his pupils. Not only those from the University of Manchester, where he worked as a professor, but also the self-taught students who learned from his works, which were several.

Of course, there is something that he always affected and asked not to address without further ado: dreams, sex and religion. Three subjects with which great care should be taken, since "they seem to us naturally immune to the art of the novelist." Of this trio, sex is the one he considered the most controversial, so when dealing with this topic he asked to be cautious and "think twice."

Overwhelming was something Amis didn't like at all, whether it was the theme or the quality or length. Thus, in his book he recommends avoiding being "disconcerting and indigestible." How is it achieved? Avoiding presenting a multitude of characters in a short time or offering "typographic air: a pause, a subtitle, another chapter". The writer was in favor of using scissors as many times as necessary. And a good way to start was by eliminating “any expression that is contaminated by the hackneyed. Cut, learn and adapt”.

Another constant reminder was that “reading and writing are, in a way, the same. When we write, we also read. Hence, the importance of staying active in reading and reviewing everything that has been written before since, days later, it can be seen with different eyes. In addition, the text must "have a unity" and form a whole. And this is not possible to achieve if "writing is not adapted to the historical context of which you write."

But if there is a guideline that must be complied with, it is "write the book you want to read." If not, according to the author's understanding, the previous ones are of little use.