Subtlety Quotes

If you need something from somebody always give that person a way to hand it to you.

The man once wrote:
Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.
Tolkien had that one mostly right.
I stepped forward, let the door bang closed, and snarled, "Fuck subtle.

If you don't want to be noticed, you don't use a Star Destroyer.

We can do subtle," I assured her.
"It's our middle name," Andrea added.
For some odd reason Rene didn't look convinced.

Andrea    Kate    Rene    Subtlety

To be most effective, flattery is always best applied with a trowel.

Seemingly minor yet persistent things penetrate the mind over time making it difficult to ever realize the impact; hence, though quite unfortunate, the most dangerous forms of corruption are those that are subtle and below the radar.

The fate of peoples is made like this, two men in small rooms. Forget the coronations, the conclaves of cardinals, the pomp and processions. This is how the world changes: a counter pushed across a table, a pen stroke that alters the force of a phrase, a woman's sigh as she passes and leaves on the air a trail of orange flower or rose water; her hand pulling close the bed curtain, the discreet sigh of flesh against flesh.

Wolf Hall

Hilary Mantel

Wolf Hall
Change    Gestures    History    Power    Subtlety    Tudors

Bookish people, who are often maladroit people, persist in thinking they can master any subtlety so long as it's been shaped into acceptable expository prose.


Carol Shields


You're about as subtle as a fucking train wreck. On a boat.

Atmosphere, not action, is the great desideratum of weird fiction. Indeed, all that a wonder story can ever be is a vivid picture of a certain type of human mood. The moment it tries to be anything else it becomes cheap, puerile, and unconvincing. Prime emphasis should be given to subtle suggestion - imperceptible hints and touches of selective associative detail which express shadings of mood and build up a vague illusion of the strange reality of the unreal. Avoid bald catalogues of incredible happenings which can have no substance or meaning apart from a sustaining cloud of colour and symbolism.

He said that it was very difficult to become an astronaut. I said that I knew. You had to become an officer in the air force and you had to take lots of orders and be prepared to kill other human beings, and I couldn't take orders. Also I didn't have 20/20 vision, which you needed to be a pilot.

I esteem
understanding and subtlety highly, but I consider that they have been put to ill use in the greater part of
work, where the author studies things of little use...
Writing about
Isaac Newton

Subtlety is the mark of confidence and is thus by far the hardest thing for a writer to achieve.

Leave it to a dude to roll in with your technique, but use a jackhammer instead of jeweler’s screwdrivers.

That image of a chessboard — an epic contest between two giant players, carefully nudging their pieces around the globe as part of a grand strategy — has indeed become a familiar metaphor for the Cold War. But it is misleading. Many decisions remembered today for their farsighted, tactical brilliance were denounced in their day as weak-willed. And big, public gestures often made less difference than the small, hidden ones.

A literally perfect style should conceal itself so completely behind what it expresses that it goes unnoticed.

The world communicates subtly. Most people don't hear or see the signs because they're so wrapped up in their day-to-day lives.

Is it not a pity when some stylistic subtlety is lost without trace by the reader's inattention?

The anthology was not a best-seller; art as a weapon seldom is.


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