Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ten rules for writing fiction - from The Guardian

A friend sent me this link yesterday - different writers such as Elmore Leonard and Roddy Doyle each giving their ten rules for writing fiction. My favourite list is by Anne Enright, who wrote The Gathering, amongst other things. Here's a snippet:

'1 The first 12 years are the worst.

'2 The way to write a book is to actually write a book. A pen is useful, typing is also good. Keep putting words on the page.

'3 Only bad writers think that their work is really good.


'6 Try to be accurate about stuff.'

Words to live - and write - by.


Ammara said...

This post is a gem! a truckload of thanx!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this post! And for the blog. A favourite place to pop in online.

Zara Penney said...

I think the core to writerly advice is to do it.
I wish I had a dollar for everyone that said to me, I want to write when I retire. Oh no baby you won't be. You'll be growing potatoes and dusting tomatoes against tomato bugs when you retire because if you are a writer, you've been doing it since you were able to figure out how to spell cat.

The more the author writes, the better they get. I did have some good advice from an editor once. Make every book your best. Never never just get by for the sake of it and end up with the book in the bottom drawer. The more you write the better you get and that is inevitable.

Rules are made to be broken. Sometimes when I see rules such as never use verbs or adjectives, or 2 exclamation marks in 100,000ks. What utter nonsense.

As to writing regime. Yes if you have the luxury a full day to write you should use it. After all, you are supposedly a professional person with an object in mind. Imagine if the librarian only went to work when she felt like it. Total breakdown.

However, those that have other duties don't have the luxury of picking and choosing. They probably slog away all night then yawn themselves to death the next day at work.

The thesaurus advice. Of course you should have a thesaurus.That is nonsense. These days they are built in the computer. Thesaurus are great because you might get an idea you'd never think of otherwise. Any help is good help.

Most important is self-belief. Nonsense that a confident author is a bad author. But then, there is nothing worse than confidence being misinterpreted as arrogance. There is a difference. I know there are authors who aren't used by editors because of their 'precious' attitudes to what to leave in an m/s and not to. They won't budge.
But it's easier for the editor to just pass onto somebody else who will probably take on advice if it makes sense. IF you don't trust your editor you are in the wrong pub house anyway. But if you are confident then you will equally have an explanation for the editor that is feasible for the editor to understand and nod. IT's a two way street and any editor worth their salt and any writer worth their salt will strike a pose. (or in our case a prose LOL).

Unknown said...

This is a small world - I am sitting in my snowing Canadian little town and reading an Antipodes blogger about British newspaper and send it to my Texan friend. Thank you so much for sharing it - Ammara is right, it is a gem!