Ten rules for writing fiction

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Ten rules for writing fiction

Postby wildlx » 23 Feb 2014, 22:49

Inspired by Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing, we asked authors for their personal dos and don'ts


Here is what Elmore Leonard, Diana Athill, Margaret Atwood, Roddy Doyle, Helen Dunmore, Geoff Dyer, Anne Enright, Richard Ford, Jonathan Franzen, Esther Freud, Neil Gaiman, David Hare, PD James, AL Kennedy have to say:
http://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/f ... n-part-one

And here what Hilary Mantel, Michael Moorcock, Michael Morpurgo, Andrew Motion, Joyce Carol Oates, Annie Proulx, Philip Pullman, Ian Rankin, Will Self, Helen Simpson, Zadie Smith, Colm Tóibín, Rose Tremain, Sarah Waters, Jeanette Winterson have to say:
http://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/f ... n-part-two

Here's what Margaret Atwood has to say:
Margaret Atwood

1 Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can't sharpen it on the plane, because you can't take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils.

2 If both pencils break, you can do a rough sharpening job with a nail file of the metal or glass type.

3 Take something to write on. Paper is good. In a pinch, pieces of wood or your arm will do.

4 If you're using a computer, always safeguard new text with a ­memory stick.

5 Do back exercises. Pain is distracting.

6 Hold the reader's attention. (This is likely to work better if you can hold your own.) But you don't know who the reader is, so it's like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark. What ­fascinates A will bore the pants off B.

7 You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there's no free lunch. Writing is work. It's also gambling. You don't get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but ­essentially you're on your own. ­Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don't whine.

8 You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You've been backstage. You've seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a ­romantic relationship, unless you want to break up.

9 Don't sit down in the middle of the woods. If you're lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page.

10 Prayer might work. Or reading ­something else. Or a constant visual­isation of the holy grail that is the finished, published version of your resplendent book.
A lesbian is the rage of all women condensed to the point of explosion. “The Woman-Identified Woman” Radicalesbians (1970)
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Re: Ten rules for writing fiction

Postby Baker » 24 Feb 2014, 06:57

Great stuff!

Fave is #6. :-)
Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities ~ Voltaire
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Re: Ten rules for writing fiction

Postby FranW » 24 Feb 2014, 08:19

she seems to have forgot you can't take a nail file on planes, either.
No on H8
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Re: Ten rules for writing fiction

Postby Nurse Jo » 24 Feb 2014, 09:44

You can take an emery board or a glass file.. At least, I usually do and haven't been stopped yet.
There is nothing the British like better than a bloke who comes from nowhere, makes it, and then gets clobbered. Melvyn Bragg
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Re: Ten rules for writing fiction

Postby Baker » 25 Feb 2014, 06:30

Real writers sharpen pencils with their teeth.

(Actually, I suspect Atwood would only need to give her pencil a withering look and it would sharpen itself up.)
Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities ~ Voltaire
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Re: Ten rules for writing fiction

Postby ElaineB » 25 Feb 2014, 10:03

Baker wrote:(Actually, I suspect Atwood would only need to give her pencil a withering look and it would sharpen itself up.)

lol
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Re: Ten rules for writing fiction

Postby wildlx » 26 Feb 2014, 00:40

lol
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