Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Many sets of rules for writing

This past Saturday, The Guardian ran a very interesting and already much discussed article, "Ten rules for writing fiction." Enough folks have mentioned it to me that I'm going to give my take on it.

First, it's a fun read, at least if you're interested in writing. The article quotes many different writers, so no matter what kind of fiction you like, there's probably someone here whose work you read and enjoy.

It's also a useful read, provided you enter it with the goal of seeing how other writers think, not with the idea of gaining your own writing rule book. You should see what resonates with you, and ignore the rest. The rules are not consistent across all these writers, nor should you expect them to be. This is not a single advice tome; it is a sampling of the wisdom of many people.

That said, one rule appears in almost every list, and you should follow it: Write. Work at the job. Put ass in chair and fingers on keyboard (or hands around pen or pencil), then write. Write.

Of course, I would amend that rule as follows: If you can possibly stop yourself from writing, do so. The world is full of fine and noble activities. If, however, you must write, then do so, and let nothing stop you. Write, finish what you write, and move to the next piece.

It is no surprise that so many of these successful writers offer variants on these statements. After all, if they had not written, finished what they were writing, and then written again, you would not know of them.

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