H.P. Lovecraft’s Advice to Aspiring Writers

Monday, August 1st, 2016

H.P. Lovecraft’s advice to aspiring writers earns a snicker from anyone familiar with where his work was published — and what beliefs he held:

It is also important that cheaper types of reading, if hitherto followed, be dropped. Popular magazines inculcate a careless and deplorable style which is hard to unlearn, and which impedes the acquisition of a purer style. If such things must be read, let them be skimmed over as lightly as possible. An excellent habit to cultivate is the analytical study of the King James Bible. For simple yet rich and forceful English, this masterly production is hard to equal; and even though its Saxon vocabulary and poetic rhythm be unsuited to general composition, it is an invaluable model for writers on quaint or imaginative themes.

This certainly sounds like Lovecraft though:

One superlatively important effect of wide reading is the enlargement of vocabulary which always accompanies it. The average student is gravely impeded by the narrow range of words from which he must choose, and he soon discovers that in long compositions he cannot avoid monotony. In reading, the novice should note the varied mode of expression practiced by good authors, and should keep in his mind for future use the many appropriate synonymes he encounters. Never should an unfamiliar word be passed over without elucidation; for with a little conscientious research we may each day add to our conquests in the realm of philology, and become more and more ready for graceful independent expression.

But in enlarging the vocabulary, we must beware lest we misuse our new possessions. We must remember that there are fine distinctions betwixt apparently similar words, and that language must ever be selected with intelligent care.


  1. Kent says:

    “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.”

  2. Isegoria says:

    Both the Esquimaux wizards and the Louisiana swamp-priests were just saying that…

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