My 10 Rules for Writing Fiction, Part 2


Last week I posted my 10 rules for writing fiction (which you can read here). My inspiration for doing this came from an article I read on the internet. I mentioned last week that I would compile a “list of 10” of my favorite rules from the different authors from that article. It proved more difficult to do than I thought it would be. There was just so much good advice.  Though my list is not exactly 10, it is close enough; that 11th rule was just too good not to include. If you agree with my list, or disagree, let me know. I’d be interested in know what your rules are. And now, the list part 2. Enjoy.

  1. Helen Dunmore: Listen to what you have written. A dud rhythm in a passage of dialogue may show that you don’t yet understand the characters well enough to write in their voices.”
  2. Geoff Dyer: Have more than one idea on the go at any one time. If it’s a choice between writing a book and doing nothing I will always choose the latter. It’s only if I have an idea for two books that I choose one rather than the other. I always have to feel that I’m bunking off from something.”
  3. Helen Simpson: “The nearest I have to a rule is a Post-it on the wall in front of my desk saying “Faire et se taire” (Flaubert), which I translate for myself as “Shut up and get on with it.”
  4. Anne Enright: Description is hard. Remember that all description is an opinion about the world. Find a place to stand.”
  5. Esther Freud: Don’t wait for inspiration. Discipline is the key.”
  6. Neil Gaiman: The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.”
  7. David Hare: “Style is the art of getting yourself out of the way, not putting yourself in it.”
  8. AL Kennedy: Have more humility. Remember you don’t know the limits of your own abilities. Successful or not, if you keep pushing beyond yourself, you will enrich your own life – and maybe even please a few strangers.”
  9. Michael Moorcock:If possible have something going on while you have your characters delivering exposition or philosophising. This helps retain dramatic tension.”
  10. Andrew Motion: Lock different characters/elements in a room and tell them to get on.”
  11. Roddy Doyle: Do not place a photograph of your favourite author on your desk, especially if the author is one of the famous ones who committed suicide.”

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