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gothicangel
02-20-2010, 10:20 AM
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/feb/20/ten-rules-for-writing-fiction-part-one

What do you guys think of these?

willietheshakes
02-20-2010, 12:37 PM
My first thought -- and this is entirely personal -- is, "Wow. I've met a fuck of a lot of these people."

As to the advice -- some of it's good, some of it's not, and I suspect what fits into each of those categories will differ for each of us.

I'm taking Will Self's rule #10 to heart: Regard yourself as a small corporation of one. Take yourself off on team-building exercises (long walks). Hold a Christmas party every year at which you stand in the corner of your writing room, shouting very loudly to yourself while drinking a bottle of white wine. Then masturbate under the desk. The following day you will feel a deep and cohering sense of embarrassment.

Kateness
02-20-2010, 12:57 PM
I think they're good baselines.

I think what you should add, after each of the bare bones of them - 'unless it works'.

Because, hell, starting with weather sometimes works.
Adding adverbs to dialogue tags sometimes works.
Sometimes, you can use the word suddenly.

I think they're good rules to keep in mind, but they're not ironclad. You can break them, if it works to break them.

Lost World
02-20-2010, 01:03 PM
If you are a big name like John Saul (he observed archly), or a dead literary giant like Joseph Conrad (fond of spicing up his dialogue with attributes like he ejaculated instead of he said, then you can pretty much ignore all of these rules from all of the authors in the article. The writing on whatever surface that will hold ink, including your arm, works for the big names as well. Stephen King is probably scrawling his next novel somewhere on his body right now, and it will sell a million copies. Sarah Palin also likes to use her appendages, though I'm sure she left her autobiography in the able hands of someone else.

As for we unsung scribes, I'm think we can all learn something from this article. Thank you.

dpaterso
02-20-2010, 01:38 PM
More "writing rules" lists! Gaaah!

-Derek

Fallen
02-20-2010, 01:48 PM
I'm taking Will Self's rule #10 to heart: Regard yourself as a small corporation of one. Take yourself off on team-building exercises (long walks). Hold a Christmas party every year at which you stand in the corner of your writing room, shouting very loudly to yourself while drinking a bottle of white wine. Then masturbate under the desk. The following day you will feel a deep and cohering sense of embarrassment.

Lol. Kind'f like that one...


I don't know, the thing with rules is that everyone has their own version of them, which suggests you find your own way to walk. But you need to take it one step further than this too. Every one has their own way, but sci-fi authors will shuffle in one direction, crime another. Some of those authors I recognise, some I don't, but I know they're comfortable in the genre they write. I'd only consider advice from them if my writing was tailored towards their genre. They're published authors, not gods, and, even if they were gods, knowing how language changes from one genre to the next, I wouldn't go listen so hard to Athena talk about water depletion when Posieden is sitting there grinning next to her.

The one rule on no adverbs for instance, children's fiction probably has the widest use of manner adverbs, crime would probably shift towards more time adverbs. So to say 'don't use them'...?

I think if any linguist wanted to make a quick buck, a book on the frequency on which genre uses the range of adverbs, show and tell, slang etc, it would sell millions. You'd have the quantative proof there in front of you. Ok the qualitative may need investigating too, but, hell, I'd buy a copy.

aadams73
02-20-2010, 03:42 PM
Hmmm, on the one hand Margaret Atwood wants me to take pencils on a plane instead of pens, on the other she wants me to write on my arm. Hey... :D

Some I agree with, others make me cringe, and some are just written in a way that makes me roll my eyes.

But the one thing they all have in common, which I completely agree with, is that writers write.

This one, by Margaret Atwood, I find particularly useful:


Don't sit down in the middle of the woods. If you're lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page.

I think all too often new writers trap themselves. They think, "Hey, I've got X words done already, if I go back I'll have fewer words," like word count is the holy grail. But sometimes we do take wrong turns, and sitting there being stubborn about it isn't going to finish the story. That's the point where the fledgling writer will throw it aside and move onto the new and shiny idea. Sometimes we need to back up and take another path to get to The End. That's what we do if we turn down a dead end street, right? Same principle.

Linda Adams
02-20-2010, 04:12 PM
More "writing rules" lists! Gaaah!

-Derek

Seconding. Especially the "Gaaah!"

C.M.C.
02-20-2010, 07:15 PM
I wish we could do away with all of this and remember that there's only one real rule: if it works, it works.

gothicangel
02-20-2010, 07:43 PM
Wow. Within four post we had two instances of masturbation and ejaculation. :D

Carry on . . .

spike
02-21-2010, 05:42 PM
I like these types of lists.

The ones that I say, "Oh no! That's not right!" are the ones I know I have to examine. It's like yoga, the position we hate is the one we really need to do.

However, there is one that is wrong: Margaret Atwood's:

If you're using a computer, always safeguard new text with a memory stick.

Do not trust a memory stick or flash drive to save your work. They are more unstable than your hard drive and can not be fixed if physically broken. They have a lot of good uses, but archiving is not one of them.

Dorian W. Gray
02-21-2010, 08:02 PM
There are no rules for writing, period. Oh wait, there are some:

Don't be stupid, and don't ever think that your readers are stupid.

Everything else is yours to take. It is your story, you tell it the way you want to tell it (adverb, verb –ly or whatever,) unless you are forcing the story for the sake of it, and if you are forcing your story, you should stop.