Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ten Rules for Writing Fiction

Earlier this week, inspired by Elmore Leonard's "Ten Rules for Writing Fiction," the UK Guardian asked a bunch of authors their own rules for writing. Now, I only just recently read my first Elmore Leonard novel, Freaky Deaky, and I gotta tell ya, I don't really want any advice from that guy. But let's face it, who are you gonna listen to? A living legend, millionaire author who's been writing successfully for five decades or a self-admittedly Unknown Writer. So, when Leonard says, "Avoid prologues: they can be annoying, especially a prologue ­following an introduction that comes after a foreword," listen to the man. When I say, "Keep masturbation (mental and physical) to a minimum," screw it and gits ta jackin'.

You can read the entire article here, but here are some of my favorites:

-- Do back exercises. Pain is distracting. -- Margaret Atwood

-- Don't write in public places. In the early 1990s I went to live in Paris. The usual writerly reasons: back then, if you were caught writing in a pub in England, you could get your head kicked in, whereas in Paris, dans les cafés . . . Since then I've developed an aversion to writing in public. I now think it should be done only in private, like any other lavatorial activity. -- Geoff Dyer

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

-- Don't have children. -- Richard Ford

-- Fiction that isn't an author's personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown isn't worth writing for anything but money. -- Jonathan Franzen

-- Never complain of being misunderstood. You can choose to be understood, or you can choose not to. -- David Hare

-- Bear in mind Wilde's dictum that "only mediocrities develop" – and ­challenge it. -- Andrew Motion

-- Keep in mind Oscar Wilde: "A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal." -- Joyce Carol Oates

-- Stop reading fiction – it's all lies anyway, and it doesn't have anything to tell you that you don't know already (assuming, that is, you've read a great deal of fiction in the past; if you haven't you have no business whatsoever being a writer of fiction). -- Will Self

-- My main rule is to say no to things like this, which tempt me away from my proper work. -- Philip Pullman

-- Ignore all proferred rules and create your own, suitable for what you want to say. -- Michael Moorcock

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