James Blish told me I had the worst case of “said bookism” (that is, using every word except “said” to indicate dialogue). He told me to limit the verbs to “said,” “replied,” “asked,” and “answered” and only when absolutely necessary.
Every writer has his writing technique - what he can and can’t do to describe something like war or history. I’m not good at writing about those things, but I try because I feel it is necessary to write that kind of thing.
It’s part of a writer’s profession, as it’s part of a spy’s profession, to prey on the community to which he’s attached, to take away information - often in secret - and to translate that into intelligence for his masters, whether it’s his readership or his spy masters. And I think that both professions are perhaps rather lonely.
I’ve known several cases of writers who decide to write about something and they research the hell out of it and when they’re ready to write, they can’t move because they are so burdened. I start writing. Whatever I need somehow comes to hand.
I began to see that about half the student’s battle is learning basic skills, while the other half involves tapping into imagination, memory and a singular view of life and the world, a view no one else shares until you put it into words.