Amateurs write purely for love of their art, without the stultifying influence of commercialism.
H. P. Lovecraft, writing in the mission statement of the United Amateur, on early “bloggers.” The National Amateur Press Association was founded on this day in 1876.
For the purpose of securing epithets at once accurate and felicitous, the young author should familiarize himself thoroughly with the general aspect and phenomena of Nature, as well as with the ideas and associations which these things produce in the human mind.
There is nothing that cannot be ultimately explicated & understood via the use of scientific analysis. It is the limitations of our brains — so large-seeming in those cozy alien cannisters, but so minute swimming in this vast black universe — that all but require an author to explore the supernatural. It’s supremely ironic that the natural world is too enormous and too fearful for the human mind to properly correlate all its contents & so we appeal to the supposedly inexplicable supernatural world to explicate the ultimately apprehendable natural world.
Remarkable interview with H. P. Lovecraft, conducted in handwriting on a single postcard, which Nick Mamatas accidentally discovered in a used book.
Complement with Lovecraft’s timeless advice to young writers.
- Erroneous plurals of nouns, as vallies or echos.
- Barbarous compound nouns, as viewpoint or upkeep.
- Want of correspondence in number between noun and verb where the two are widely separated or the construction involved.
- Ambiguous use of pronouns.
- Erroneous case of pronouns, as whom for who, and vice versa, or phrases like “between you and I,” or “Let we who are loyal, act promptly.”
- Erroneous use of shall and will, and of other auxiliary verbs.
- Use of intransitive for transitive verbs, as “he was graduated from college,” or vice versa, as “he ingratiated with the tyrant.”
- Use of nouns for verbs, as “he motored to Boston,” or “he voiced a protest.”
- Errors in moods and tenses of verbs, as “If I was he, I should do otherwise,” or “He said the earth was round.”
- The split infinitive, as “to calmly glide.”
- The erroneous perfect infinitive, as “Last week I expected to have met you.”
- False verb-forms, as “I pled with him.”
- Use of like for as, as “I strive to write like Pope wrote.”
- Misuse of prepositions, as “The gift was bestowed to an unworthy object,” or “The gold was divided between the five men.”
- The superfluous conjunction, as “I wish for you to do this.”
- Use of words in wrong senses, as “The book greatly intrigued me,” “Leave me take this,” “He was obsessed with the idea,” or “He is a meticulous writer.”
- Erroneous use of non-Anglicised foreign forms, as “a strange phenomena,” or “two stratas of clouds.”
- Use of false or unauthorized words, as burglarize or supremest.
- Errors of taste, including vulgarisms, pompousness, repetition, vagueness, ambiguousness, colloquialism, bathos, bombast, pleonasm, tautology, harshness, mixed metaphor, and every sort of rhetorical awkwardness.
- Errors of spelling and punctuation, and confusion of forms such as that which leads many to place an apostrophe in the possessive pronoun its.
H. P. Lovecraft’s list of the 20 most common mistakes young writers make
A page of Addison or of Irving will teach more of style than a whole manual of rules, whilst a story of Poe’s will impress upon the mind a more vivid notion of powerful and correct description and narration than will ten dry chapters of a bulky textbook.
H. P. Lovecraft’s advice to aspiring writers, 1920
The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.