One hundred ‘rules’ for writing fiction: 42-46

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Further tips, pearls of wisdom, or words of warning on writing fiction, gleaned from interviews, festival appearances and articles:

42. Don’t follow trends. Aspire to set them. (KOR).

43.  Imagination is everything. What you do when you’re a novelist is play Let’s Pretend. Just like children do, but on an adult level. You become a prep school boy, a First World War soldier, a police detective. I can’t stress it enough. (Susan Hill).

44.  Do change your mind. Good ideas are often murdered by better ones. I was working on a novel about a band called the Partitions. Then I decided to call them the Commitments. (Roddy Doyle).

45. The basic rule given us [when students] was simple and heartbreaking. A story to be effective had to convey something from the writer to the reader, and the power of its offering was the measure of its excellence. Outside of that, there were no rules. A story could be about anything and could use any means and any technique at all – so long as it was effective. As a subhead to this rule, it seemed to be necessary for the writer to know what he wanted to say, in short, what he was talking about. As an exercise we were to try reducing the meat of our story to one sentence, for only then could we know it well enough to enlarge it to three- or six- or ten-thousand words. (John Steinbeck).

46.  Don’t romanticise your “vocation”. You can either write good sentences or you can’t. There is no “writer’s lifestyle”. All that matters is what you leave on the page. (Zadie Smith).

3 responses to “One hundred ‘rules’ for writing fiction: 42-46

  1. The rule I learned in school that has helped me throughout my life is “Write for your audience”. You have to figure out who will be reading or listening and make it easy for them to hear you, stretching them a bit, but addressing them and captivating them.

  2. Pingback: URL

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