The Words of Tim O’Brien

“I sit in a room for 7 hours a day, in my underwear, staring at my computer screen. I am a writer.”
– Tim O’Brien



On April 25th, I had the honor of listening to a speech and reading from Tim O’Brien himself. I sat in a theatre with over a thousand people and soaked up information from this classic and phenomenal writer. I went to listen, and instead, I was taught. He gave everyone in the theatre plenty of advice for writers, good quotes, and some lessons to remember. I would like to share them with you today: the words of Tim O’Brien.

Advice for Writers:

  1. Avoid flowery decorative, long-winded language.
  2. Avoid excessive and falsely poetic alliteration.
  3. Use active, not passive, verbs. Show, don’t tell.
  4. When writing fiction, don’t be afraid to lie.
    • We make things up for a reason, or there would be no TV, theatre, etc
    • Possibilities are beyond the limitations of reality
    • Miracles can happen. Anything can happen


A Good Story:

“A good story is always concrete and specific. It doesn’t generalize, offer advice on how to live your life, nor moralize. It is aimed at your heart, tearducts, stomach. All of your body, in fact.
It offers us perspectives of lives we will never experience.
A good story keeps us from feeling alone, because it proclaims that we are all a part of the same universe.”

Final Words:

“You can take something real, something nonfiction, and create a whole world, a whole story out of it. This? This is what defines fiction.”


What do you carry?

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