Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Fiction Rules

Well, I am wary of writing rules, but they are usually right. The Guardian published this article a few days ago featuring some of today's well-known writers and their top ten rules on writing. While some are obvious -- read a lot, write a lot, don't use adverbs, avoid prologues, etc, it's interesting to hear these rules in the words of the writers themselves. The article is chock-full of good advice. Some of my favorites:

"The two most depressing words in the English language are 'literary fiction'." -David Hare

"Interesting verbs are seldom very interesting." -Jonathan Franzen

"Do keep a thesaurus, but in the shed at the back of the garden or behind the fridge, somewhere that demands travel or effort." -Roddy Doyle

"Only bad writers think that their work is really good." -Anne Enright

And so forth. Read the whole thing here.


  1. I like rules. But you knew that. I actually think they're useful because even when you're breaking one, it makes you *think* about why you're doing so. And being aware of why you're making certain word choices, or taking a specific approach that's NOT advised as an opening, or consciously choosing to use an adverb can be illuminating. About your process, obviously, but more importantly, about your story or your characters.

    So learn them all and consider them under advisement. But break them when the spirit moves you.

  2. Agreed. You said it much better than I could!