Today is the birthday of the late horror author H. P. Lovecraft. You can explore his life and work at The H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society.
In honor of Lovecraft’s 122nd birthday, this GalleyCat editor collected some practical writing advice from the prolific author, all published in a 1920 essay called “Literary Composition.”
Here’s an excerpt; it still works after all these years: “All attempts at gaining literary polish must begin with judicious reading, and the learner must never cease to hold this phase uppermost. In many cases, the usage of good authors will be found a more effective guide than any amount of precept. A page of [Joseph Addison] or of [Washington Irving] will teach more of style than a whole manual of rules, whilst a story of [Edgar Allan 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. Let every student read unceasingly the best writers.”
Editor’s Note: Reader Nicole Cushing reminded us: “Lovecraft only wrote one novel. Most of his work fell in the short story, novelette, or novella range.”