When you depict sad or unlucky people, and want to touch the reader’s heart, try to be colder—it gives their grief, as it were, a background, against which it stands out in greater relief. As it is, your heroes weep and you sigh. Yes, you must be cold.
“The first law of writing,” said Macaulay, “that law to which all others are subordinate, is this: that the words employed shall be such as to convey to the reader the meaning of the writer.” Toward that end, use familiar words—words that your readers will understand, and not words they will have to look up. No advice is more elementary, and no advice is more difficult to accept. When we feel an impulse to use a marvelously exotic word, let us lie down until the impulse goes away.
For Christ sake write and don't worry what the boys will say nor whether it will be a masterpiece nor what. I write one page of masterpiece to ninety one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the waste-basket . . . . Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously.
ERNEST HEMINGWAY in a letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald (1934)