(To survey other elements and author quotes, visit the Elements of Fiction home page)

“All writing is communication; creative writing is communication through revelation—it is the Self escaping into the open. No writer long remains incognito.” E.B. White

“To me, his [Nobel’s] thinking is clearly indicated in the categories of these awards. They are offered for increased and continuing knowledge of man and of his world—for understanding  and communication, which are the functions of literature.” John Steinbeck

“Writing is embodied thought, and the thought is clear or muddy, graspable or fugitive, according to the purity of the medium. Communication means one thought held in common. What could be more practical than to try to make that thought unmistakable?” Jacques Barzun

“A writer can live by writing to himself alone for days and years. Sooner or later to go on he must be read.” Robert Frost

“I don’t believe in hermetic art; I think there’s everything to be said for writing that wants to get read.” John Fowles

“A great sentence is one that forms a perfect picture in the mind of the reader. It does not have to be long and requires no special vocabulary. It merely communicates an idea so perfectly that the reader can see and feel it.” Othello Bach

“Be as simple and direct as possible. This aim means: asking what is before the mind’s eye—the object one is trying to copy in words—and then stripping away everything that blocks the view.” Jacques Barzun

“Writing is an intimate transaction between two people, conducted on paper, and it will go well to the extent that it retains its humanity.” William Zinsser

“Writing is talking to someone else on paper. If you can think clearly, you can put what you think and what you know into writing.” William Zinsser

“If a writer feels that he was unable to fully express what he wanted to express, it means that he did not know clearly what he wanted to express.” Ayn Rand

“Since all art is communication, there can be nothing more viciously contradictory than the idea of nonobjective art. Anyone who wants to communicate with others has to rely on an objective reality and on objective language.” Ayn Rand

“Unless the novelist has gone utterly out of his mind, his aim is still communication, and communication suggests talking inside a community.” Flannery O’Connor

“Success means being heard. . . . the act of writing is not complete in itself. It has its end in its audience.” Flannery O’Connor

“In art, the way of saying a thing becomes a part of what is said.” Flannery O’Connor

“The test of a book (to a writer) is if it makes a space in which, quite naturally, you can say what you want to say.” Virginia Woolf

“The committed writer hopes to communicate with other minds across many barriers—of time, space, and language.” William Sloane

“Pretense results when a writer preoccupied with his or her own diction loses sight of the primary goal: communicating with an audience. . . . Whenever you’ve got a choice, go with the plain talk, not the pomposity.” Constance Hale

Literature is the most exact expression of feelings, while science is the most exact kind of reporting.” S.I. Hayakawa

“Poetry, which condenses all the affective resources of language into patterns of infinite rhythmical subtlety, may be said to be the language of expression at its highest degree of efficiency.” S.I. Hayakawa

“The author’s purpose is not merely to tell much, it is to make known the whole—the whole being his concept, which is his novel.” Elizabeth Bowen

“I don’t believe a story or a novel should be allowed outside the door of your study or writing room unless you feel confident that it’s reasonably reader-friendly.” Stephen King

“I have wanted to say what it says there, literally and in all other senses.” Arthur Rimbaud

“Communication, which is the very object of speech, is successfully effected only when the hearer’s auditory perceptions are translated into the appropriate and intended flow of imagery or thought or both combined.” Edward Sapir

“Most of those who have written extensively under varying conditions would say that the true healthful pressure and excitement come from a belief that the things one wants to say form a coherent whole and are in some way needed; that is, the urge is a mixture of the aesthetic and the utilitarian impulses.” Jacques Barzun

“Communication is going on . . . when you believe the writer.” Eudora Welty