One hundred ‘rules’ for writing fiction: 82-86.








Further quotations and advice on writing fiction, gathered from interviews and articles over the years.

82. Keep an idea or two in your head. Once you focus on one that you’re going to use, do a lot of reading around the subject. Educate yourself. (Helen Simpson).

83.  You should never read just for ‘enjoyment.’ Read to make yourself smarter! Less judgemental. More apt to understand your friends’ insane behaviour, or better yet, your own. Pick ‘hard books.’ Ones you have to concentrate on while reading. And for god’s sake, don’t let me ever hear you say, ‘I can’t read fiction. I only have time for the truth.’ Fiction is the truth, fool! Ever hear of ‘literature’? That means fiction, too, stupid. (John Waters).

84.  Who says you have to start writing first thing in the morning? People worry that you have t have a structure to the day; that you have to get a structure to the day; that you have to get a certain number of words written. Who makes these rules? This sort of thing makes people anxious about their writing before they’ve even started. (Susan Hill).

85.  Writing is not a serious business. It’s a joy and a celebration. You should be having fun with it. (Ray Bradbury).

86.  Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin. The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt the rhythm of the exchange. I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances “full of rape and adverbs”. (Elmore Leonard).

5 responses to “One hundred ‘rules’ for writing fiction: 82-86.

  1. Kaite,
    I’m stopping by to remind you to read my novel, METAL MAN WALKING and to tell you I like this post a lot — love Ray Bradbury! Sad that he’s left us. You may purchase a paperback copy of MMW at but it is not on an E-Reader. I’m debating a post on my rationale for this decision.
    Many blessings, Carley
    (PS – MMW is also available at
    (PS – My father’s a playwright like you.)

  2. Thanks Carley, and good luck with the book.

  3. Oh Really,

    Hello dearest. Here’s hoping you enjoyed your Sheffield experience. Another great blog. Re 86: I used to record novels for visually impaired people – lots of Barbara Cartland. My favourite opening line of hers: ‘Looking back towards the past…’


    p.s. just been shortlisted for The Bristol Prize. Won’t win, but it’s an encouraging start to my return to short fiction. Also, longlisted, BBC Opening Lines. I’m enjoying not writing for theatre – am I allowed to say that to you?! What I mean is, there are so few opportunities for people like me that it became a battle to create the idea of a play ie anticipating a product through the eyes of the commissioning theatre. But so glad you’re still carrying the torch. See what I did there with the Olympic thing…

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