Advice from the Masters: Gabriel García Márquez

Apr 23, 2014 | Better Writing

Gabriel García Márquez won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. When he died last week, the media filled up with biographies and tributes. I think the following portion of his Wikipedia entry, is a good, succinct summary of what all the fuss was about.

“García Márquez started as a journalist, and wrote many acclaimed non-fiction works and short stories, but is best known for his novels, such as One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967), The Autumn of the Patriarch (1975) and Love in the Time of Cholera (1985). His works have achieved significant critical acclaim and widespread commercial success, most notably for popularizing a literary style labeled as magic realism, which uses magical elements and events in otherwise ordinary and realistic situations. Some of his works are set in a fictional village called Macondo (the town mainly inspired by his birthplace Aracataca), and most of them explore the theme of solitude.”

I searched for a bit of his advice that would be relevant for people who aren’t professional writers or who don’t write fiction. It wasn’t hard to find. Here’s a quote selected from his interview with Peter Stone of the Paris Review on the art of fiction.

“Ultimately, literature is nothing but carpentry.”

You may substitute “writing” for “literature” if you choose. Writing, like carpentry, is a craft. Even if you aspire to create great art, you have to get the craft right.

Want more? Check out the complete list of Advice from the Masters posts.

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