Good Advice on Writing: Great Quotations from Writers Past and Present on How to Write Well is a book that you can read in snippets here and there as the mood takes you. The quotations are arranged alphabetically according to topic. I expected to glean far more noteworthy quotes, but ended up with only a handful. Here were my favorite four, along with a recipe for establishing character:
"I wish for you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime." - Ray Bradbury
Doesn't that create a beautiful image for a writer?
When it comes to warming up and getting in rhythm, Leonard Bernstein writes - "It simply doesn't matter what you write; it only matters that you write."
Here again, don't worry about what comes out, just set about to the task at hand. Revision is always possible later on. And once words are revised, they should be so smooth that the reader is unaware the writing is using words at all:
"Words ... if they attract attention to themselves, it is a fault; in the very best styles you read page after page without noticing the medium." - Samuel Taylor Coleridge
"If you can't bring yourself to put a finished manuscript away for a year to give yourself perspective when you look at it again, try six months. Four months. Three weeks. If you waste a day because you wrote nothing worth saying, don't worry about it. It comes with the territory. Don't hesitate to start a novel over, though you've been working on it for two years. Don't be afraid to change the protagonist or the ending, or to decide that you are not writing about the theme you originally had in mind. That's O.K." - Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
This is so freeing when one feels stuck in the midst of novel writing.
Character recipe: 1) What does this person want? 2) What prevents him from getting it? 3) What does he do about this obstacle? 4) What are the results of what he does? 5) What showdown does all this lead to? 6) Does he get what he wants, finally?
Great questions to ask yourself about characters you are creating.