Advice from the Masters: Thomas Wolfe

Apr 8, 2015 | Better Writing

My grandfather worked on the railroad and maybe that was part of it, but Thomas Wolfe was one of the writers I loved most. I loved the power of his writing and marked out passages from Look Homeward, Angel and You Can’t Go Home Again to read aloud, alone in my room at night.

Wolfe wrote great, long novels. The story is that Wolfe gave the original manuscript of Look Homeward, Angel to the legendary editor Maxwell Perkins. Then the two of them, together edited it down to “publishable length.” They cut out 60,000 words which makes the following advice even more powerful.

“What I had to face, the very bitter lesson that everyone who wants to write has got to learn, was that a thing may in itself be the finest piece of writing one has ever done, and yet have absolutely no place in the manuscript one hopes to publish.”

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

Sign Up For Blog Posts Via Email