Douglas Adams (born 11 March 1952, died 11 May 2001) was an English writer, comic radio dramatist, and musician. He is best known as the author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and the Dirk Gently series.
His Hitchhiker ‘trilogy’ of five books sold more than 15 million copies in his lifetime and generated a television series, stage plays, comics, a computer game, and a feature film.
Douglas died in May 2001 of a sudden heart attack at 49 when he was working on the screenplay for a feature film version of Hitchhiker.
Here are 10 tips from his novels that can be used as writing advice:
1. Choose your sources with care.
‘All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others.’ (The Salmon of Doubt)
2. Trust the process.
‘I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.’ (The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul)
3. Change your perspective.
‘He was constantly reminded of how startlingly different a place the world was when viewed from a point only three feet to the left.’ (The Salmon of Doubt)
4. Look for ideas in irritating things.
‘So where do the ideas actually come from? Mostly from getting annoyed about things. Not big issues so much … as the little irritations that drive you wild out of all proportion.’ (The Frood: The Authorised and Very Official History of Douglas Adams & The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
5. Observe everything all the time.
‘They were not the same eyes with which he had last looked out at this particular scene, and the brain which interpreted the images the eyes resolved was not the same brain. There had been no surgery involved, just the continual wrenching of experience.’ (So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish)
6. Make your writing user-friendly.
‘If you really want to understand something, the best way is to try and explain it to someone else.’ (Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency)
7. Push your boundaries.
‘Let’s think the unthinkable, let’s do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.’ (Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency)
8. All writers procrastinate.
‘I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.’ (The Salmon of Doubt)
9. Create a world and create conflict.
‘The story so far:
In the beginning the Universe was created.
This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.’ (The Restaurant at the End of the Universe)
10. Do your research.
‘I’d take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day.’ (The Salmon of Doubt)
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