Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Archive for March 13th, 2011

Stephen Sondheim’s three rules of writing

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There are only three principles necessary for a lyric writer, all of them familiar truisms. They were not immediately apparent to me when I started writing, but have come into focus via Oscar Hammerstein’s tutoring, Strunk and White’s huge little book The Elements of Style and my own sixty-some years of practicing the craft. I have not always been skilled or diligent enough to follow them as faithfully as I would like, but they underlie everything I’ve ever written. In no particular order, and to be inscribed in stone:

Content Dictates Form

Less Is More

God Is in the Details

all in the service of

Clarity

without which nothing else matters.

Stephen Sondheim, Finishing the Hat

Written by nevalalee

March 13, 2011 at 12:21 pm

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