One hundred ‘rules’ for writing fiction: 72-76








Further provocations on writing fiction (and poetry), taken from my vast store of ‘significant quotes’ gathered over the years from articles, interviews, and festivals.

72.  Create your own masterclass. Deconstruct and analyse text which ‘works’ – question why that sentence is so arresting; how that section moves at a pace; why the structure holds. Classics, or literature which is hailed as great and then manages to stand the test of time must be doing something right… (KOR).

73.  Sometimes life is hard. Things go wrong — and in life, and in love, and in business, and in friendship, and in health, and in all the other ways in which life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do: Make good art. I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Someone on the internet thinks what you’re doing is stupid, or evil, or it’s all been done before? Make good art. (Neil Gaiman).

74.   Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’ –  your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. (Mark Twain).

75.  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.’  (Helen Simpson).

76.  Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. (William Wordsworth).

3 responses to “One hundred ‘rules’ for writing fiction: 72-76

  1. Good advice as ever – I especially like Rule 74.

  2. These tips are really interesting, thank you for sharing!

  3. Thank you, both. It’s been something of an obsession over the years, storing quotations and seeds of advice – glad to make use of them. Not sure what I’ll do in 24 more ‘rules’…. Do ‘One hundred more ‘rules’??

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