Writing Craft

Presidential Quotes

Today is President’s Day in the U.S. Originally established in 1885 as a recognition of George Washington’s birthday (February 22nd), it was later expanded to include Abraham Lincoln and all other U.S. presidents.

Some of the words of these leaders have stood the test of time. For example from Abraham Lincoln:

  • Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
  • And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.
  • My dream is of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth.

and these from George Washington:

  • My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.
  • 99% of failures come from people who make excuses.
  • In politics as in philosophy, my tenets are few and simple. The leading one of which, and indeed that which embraces most others, is to be honest and just ourselves and to exact it from others, meddling as little as possible in their affairs where our own are not involved. If this maxim was generally adopted, wars would cease and our swords would soon be converted into reap hooks and our harvests be more peaceful, abundant, and happy

And others:

  • “On matters of style, swim with the current, on matters of principle, stand like a rock.” ―Thomas Jefferson
  • “It’s easier to do a job right, than to explain why you didn’t.” ― Martin Van Buren
  • “There are men and women who make the world better just by being the kind of people they are. They have the gift of kindness or courage or loyalty or integrity. It really matters very little whether they are behind the wheel of a truck or running a business or bringing up a family. They teach the truth by living it.”―James Garfield
  • “Never waste a minute thinking about people you don’t like.” ― Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • “Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, leave the rest to God.” ― Ronald Reagan

There have been some incredible orators who held the office of president. Some of the above phrases have a brilliant cadence to them. Others are simple and yet still poignant. As you think about these words, think about your own writing. Is there a better turn of the phrase you can use? Is there a way to smooth your prose so it isn’t clunky (like using the word “clunky” in a sentence!). Can you wait a few moments before you spill your thoughts on the screen so that they may be seasoned with a measure of grace. Who knows maybe your words will touch someone’s heart today and bring light into our dark world.

Presidential trivia: Did you know that Ulysses S. Grant’s autobiography had a rather famous publisher? Published shortly after his death in 1885 (he finished the work days before he passed away) the two volume work sold 350,000 copies. His publisher? Mark Twain. Many feel it is the greatest presidential memoir ever written.

[By the way, this is not a post about politics nor is this blog a place to voice political opinions. Please keep to the topic of writing and not the politics of your country of residence or elsewhere. Thanks!]

Leave a Comment

Easily Entertained

Recently my husband, daughter, and I had dinner with my parents at King’s Barbeque in Petersburg, Virginia. My paternal grandfather discovered this restaurant in the 1950s and it is still one of our family’s favorite places. Since it was near Christmas, they displayed a unique decoration – a pig wearing …

Read More

Remove the Barriers in Fiction

Few things empower fiction better than well developed characters. Which is why you don’t want to create unintentional barriers between your characters and your readers. What barriers, you ask? Well, here’s one that affects POV characters: John knew he was about to learn something important. Do you see it? The …

Read More

What is Your Attention Span?

I came across the study that claims the average person now has a shorter attention span than that of a goldfish. Eight seconds. This means most people tend to lose concentration in less than ten seconds. As an experiment, I read the above paragraph out loud. It took about 10 …

Read More

Contrived is a Four-Letter Word

Few things irritate fiction readers more than a story peopled by characters who act and react without any apparent reason for what they’re doing and saying. No reason, that is, except to illustrate the author’s message. Or prove the author’s point. Well, you say, don’t we all have a message …

Read More

New Year, New First Lines!

Are you as stunned as I am that we’re already weeks into 2017? I figure the beginning of an all-new year is a great time to share our all-new first lines! I love seeing what you all are working on, so jump in and share the first line—and ONLY the …

Read More

The Seeds of Great Ideas

Thanks so much for sharing your tips and sources for ideas last week. What fun to read your thoughts and insights. I’d invite you all to review those comments from time to time, considering if one or more of them might not help you expand the ways you develop ideas. …

Read More

Finding Great Book Ideas

The beginning of a whole new year seems like a good time to think about new ideas. Specifically, new ideas for stories to write. We all have our favorite sources for new ideas. Some pull story ideas from breaking news stories, some from their own personal experiences or struggles, some …

Read More