Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Ten Rules for Fiction Writing

This isn't a real post but may be of interest to those with literary leanings. Here's a link to a great article from The Guardian's website at the weekend: Ten Rules for Writing Fiction

The author asked 30 top authors for their best snippets of advice: 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 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

OK, the web is full of advice to writers - there's always a market for it because it make us feel like we're writing when we're not. But this list is from the big names and is entertaining as well as useful. My favourite was Philip Pulman's delightfully succinct: "My main rule is to say no to things like this, which tempt me away from my proper work."

So, can anyone guess which crazy tip is included in ALL their lists?

That's write.


  1. And most people - except for Will Self who does a fine impersonation of a he-thinks-he's-oh-so-clever Sixth Former - suggested reading well.

  2. Yes, I loved the Philip Pullman one, too!

  3. Alan Bleasdale gave me the following advice in 1982. It made sense then, and it makes sense now.

    'Someone once said that writing was 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration - it's all about bum on chair and fingers on the keys. Batter and batter, write and write, then rewrite and rewrite, chisel down, eliminate dross and roads that go nowhere, cul-de-sacs and long journeys and people you meet on that journey who have no contribution to make.'

  4. SInclair Lewis . . American writer and enthusiastic drunk . . is supposed to have asked a class of would-be writers . . "Which of you wants to be a published writer?" Every hand in the class went up. "Then why aren't you at home writing?" he asked . . .

  5. I loved these tips! Especially the one about stretching - I want nice, concrete advice :)

  6. OK, so if no-one sees me for a while, blame Philip Pullman/ Alan Bleasdale.

    But of course, on reading these tips what did I do? Did I go back to writing my novel or did I BLOG about it? Aaaargh! But yes, Sarah (and welcome!), I did some stretches too - and they did actually help!

    Moptop - why not try the Sinclair Lewis trick from Doctor FTSE (also - welcome!)?... I mean what he said, not the enthusiastic drunk part!