One hundred and fifty ‘rules’ for writing fiction: 97-101.

Further quotations and pieces of advice from established writers, taken from interviews, festivals, and articles…. Writing one hundred rules has almost taken a year, and  I’ve enjoyed compiling this so much, rather than finish the series here at one hundred, I’ve cheated and increased it to one hundred and fifty… Hope you continue to enjoy some of the gems I’ve gathered over the years…

97.   A true story can be falsified in the telling. Language is lazy, it wants to revert to what’s obvious, to what’s been said before, to short cuts…There’s no secret, of course, to writing a good story. But to strive against the clichés of perception and expression, to work to get down something true in words – this is the only place to start. (Tessa Hadley).

98.  Aim for a story that is both surprising and satisfying. The only thing worse than reading a novel and feeling like you know exactly what’s going to happen is reading a novel and feeling unfulfilled at the end — like what happened wasn’t what was supposed to happen. Your readers invest themselves in your story. They deserve an emotional and intellectual payoff.

99.   I know you’ve heard it a thousand times before. But it’s true – hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice. If you don’t love something, then don’t do it. (Ray Bradbury).

100.   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. If both pencils break, you can do a rough sharpening job with a nail file of the metal or glass type. (Margaret Atwood).

101.  I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite. (G.K. Chesterton). 

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