Thursday, November 17, 2011

C.S. Lewis on Writing: II

Continuing with Lewis’s September 2, 1957 letter to Jane Gaskell:

You are too fond of long adverbs like ‘dignifiedly’, which are not nice to pronounce. I hope, by the way, you always write by ear not by eye. Every sentence shd. be tested on the tongue, to make sure that the sound of it has the hardness or softness, the swiftness or languor, which the meaning of it calls for.

Haskell was 14 when she wrote the book Lewis read; she was 16 or 17 when Lewis wrote to her. Here is a world-renown author and professor at Cambridge taking the time to write to a teenager, and not just write, but to critique and offer advice.

Lewis concludes the letter with:

I hope all this does not enrage you. You’ll get so much bad advice that I felt I must give you some of what I think good.

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