Sep

25

2013

Justin Taylor|10:57 am CT

The Best Writing Advice You Will Hear Today

C.S. Lewis’s last interview was on May 7, 1963—six months before he died. Sherwood Wirt (1911-2001) asked for his writing advice: “How would you suggest a young Christian writer go about developing a style?”

Lewis responded:

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.

—C. S. Lewis, “Cross-Examination,” in C.S. Lewis: Essay Collection and Other Short Pieces, ed. Lesley Walmsley (London: HarperCollins, 2000), 555.

This is one of the reasons Lewis is still read today. Agree or disagree with what he’s saying, you don’t have to wonder what he thinks. This blessed clarity and precision is a gift we can emulate.

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