John Steinbeck’s Writing Tips

In March 1919, John Steinbeck wrote to Maralyn Monroe asking for a signed photograph ‘for his nephew.’ Yes, he really did have a nephew who has confirmed such a letter was written. In his letter the author said that his nephew was already Maralyn’s slave. If he, Steinbeck, could persuade her to send him a signed photo following this request, the teenage boy would be his slave too. Touched by receiving ‘fan mail’ from such a famous author, she kept the letter until she died.

Apart from his acclaimed books – Cannery Row, of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, Steinbeck was a noted and stylish letter writer. He was not averse either to giving advice to aspiring writers. Below are his six most famous writing tips. All are surprisingly straightforward and practical – you don’t need to be struggling to pen the next Great American Novel to find them useful – although I do find the second tip harder to keep to than the others. I have a few works [not] in progress where the early chapters have been revised into a premature death.

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