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Ten Rules For Writers

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message 1: by Martyn (new)

Martyn | 299 comments This weekend The Guardian Review asked a load of writers to name their "10 Rules For Writers".

Anyway, here's a selection of my favourite rules:

"Regard yourself as a small corporation of one. Take yourself off on team-building exercises (long walks). Hold a Christmas party every year in 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." - Will Self

"Remember: when people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong."

- Neil Gaiman

"No one has ever achieved consistency as a screenwriter." - David Hare

"If you have to read, to cheer yourself up read biographies of writers who went insane" - Colm Toibin

"Keep a light, hopeful heart. But expect the worst"

- Joyce Carol Oates

"If it sounds like writing. I re-write it."

- Elmore Leonard

"It's doubtful that anyone with an internet connection is writing good fiction."

- Jonathan Franzen

"Remember there is no such thing as nonsense."

- Andrew Motion

"Marry somebody you love and thinks you being a writer is a good idea." - Richard Ford

"Do not place a photograph of your favourite author on your desk, especially if that author committed suicide." - Roddy Doyle

"Never forget, even your own rules are there to be broken." - Esther Freud

"My minimum is 1,000 words a day - which is sometimes easy to achieve, and is at other times, frankly, like shitting a brick." - Sarah Waters

"Ted Hughes gave me this advice: record moments, fleeting impressions, overheard dialogue, your own sadnesses and bewilderments and joys."

- Michael Morpurgo











message 2: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
Jonathan Franzen, go have a drink and open a Facebook account! It's TV that's doing in writers!

Seriously, though. What harm does joining the collective human consciousness do to writing? Unless you can't tear yourself away from it and be an individual to scribble some stuff down every few minutes.


message 3: by Patrick, The Special School Bus Rider (new)

Patrick (horrorshow) | 269 comments Mod
Annnnd why else would you masturbate under the desk if not for internet porn?


message 4: by Ben, uneasy in a position of power; a yorkshire pudding (new)

Ben Loory | 241 comments Mod
this one is so right, i've noticed it myself so many times:

"Remember: when people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong."

- Neil Gaiman


and that one about the famous writer's photo is awesome.





message 5: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
I kinda dig Richard Ford's quote, myself.

And yeah - the Neil Gaiman quote rings true to me, too.


message 6: by Jonathan, the skipper (new)

Jonathan | 609 comments Mod
. . .why does franzen ALWAYS have to say something that makes him sound like a dick?

. . . we did a 50 rules for writers post, on three guys, one book, a few months ago . . .

here were mine:

1. Don’t write. Tell me a story.
2. Don’t include scenes just because they’re good scenes.
3. Don’t tell the story with your head, tell it with your body, even when it’s cerebral.
4. Don’t let overarching symbolism marginalize your characters.
5. Don’t show off, it doesn’t serve the story.
6. Don’t try to be culturally significant, just report the human condition
7. Don’t hide behind sarcasm.
8. Avoid obtuse narrative devices and ambiguous POV transitions.
9. Don’t be too explicit, the reader has a brain.
10. Don’t burden me with peripheral information, unless your intent is to distract.




message 7: by Matt, e-monk (new)

Matt Comito | 386 comments Mod
Jonathan wrote: " . . .why does franzen ALWAYS have to say something that makes him sound like a dick?"

if it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck...?


message 8: by João (new)

João Camilo (jcamilo) | 259 comments Because half of the writers guardians asks are bad writers which would get their life teaching old wives to write bad books they would publish and give to their grandson in the x-tmas?

Nobody there beat old Horacio Quiroga decalogue, which stars: trust the masters...


message 9: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (last edited Feb 24, 2010 07:31AM) (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
Someone posted this to my wall on Facebook and from the ones listed, I like these... I skipped Franzen altogether!

Diana Athill
You don't always have to go so far as to murder your darlings – those turns of phrase or images of which you felt extra proud when they appeared on the page – but go back and look at them with a very beady eye. Almost always it turns out that they'd be better dead. (Not every little twinge of satisfaction is suspect – it's the ones which amount to a sort of smug glee you must watch out for.)

Margaret Atwood
You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there's no free lunch. Writing is work. It's also gambling. You don't get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but essentially you're on your own. Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don't whine.

Helen Dunmore
Read Keats's letters.

Geoff Dyer
Don't be one of those writers who sentence themselves to a lifetime of sucking up to Nabokov.

Anne Enright
The first 12 years are the worst.

Richard Ford
Don't take any shit if you can possibly help it.

David Hare
The two most depressing words in the English language are "literary fiction".

PD James
Open your mind to new experiences, particularly to the study of other ­people. Nothing that happens to a writer – however happy, however tragic – is ever wasted.

AL Kennedy
Remember writing doesn't love you. It doesn't care. Nevertheless, it can behave with remarkable generosity. Speak well of it, encourage others, pass it on.


message 10: by Matt, e-monk (new)

Matt Comito | 386 comments Mod
http://www.salon.com/books/writing/in...

interesting + a link to the Guardian article


message 11: by Keith (new)

Keith Dixon (keithwdixon) | 44 comments "It's doubtful that anyone with an internet connection is writing good fiction."

- Jonathan Franzen"


i guess that means franzen has an internet connection.


message 12: by Martyn (new)

Martyn | 299 comments Keith wrote: ""It's doubtful that anyone with an internet connection is writing good fiction."

- Jonathan Franzen"

i guess that means franzen has an internet connection."


meow!


message 13: by João (new)

João Camilo (jcamilo) | 259 comments No, this only means that someone with internet conection is writing good fiction because they can access Wikipedia.


message 14: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy (jimmylorunning) | 102 comments Jimmy's Rules for Writing:

1. Never repeat yourself.

2. Find the rules of writing and try to break them.

3. If you're bored, quit writing, or change directions. There is no excuse for writing boring shit.

4. (Almost) never 'write what you know'.

5. If you can do it, why do it? - Stein

6. Challenge the masters. Don't lie down and take it.

7. Believe in yourself beyond anybody else.

8. Listen to the words. Don't look outside for answers. The sound, rhythm, and meaning. Therein lies all your answers.

9. Read outside of your comfort zone. Read non-literature. Read philosophy. Read technical manuals. Read what isn't cool anymore, or never was. Never pay attention to trends.

10. Stop reading these rules, dude. Make up your own fucking rules.


message 15: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy (jimmylorunning) | 102 comments one more:

11. Don't call yourself a writer until you've done the work. Put in 10,000 hours, at least, even if it's just journal writing. Never be caught up in the illegitimate, and dangerously romantic image of "writer".


message 16: by Pavel (new)

Pavel Kravchenko (pavelk) | 96 comments My rule 1. It's going to take you half a fucking day to come up with ten rules, then go back and check them for errors before posting, then go back and check them for stupidity, then go back and check them for order and cliche and a million other things. So don't waste time writing the goddamn rules. You don't know what the fuck you're talking about.


message 17: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
I am pretty sure that the people who submitted their rules for this article thought it was an amusing idea and didn't take it all that seriously.

It's just for fun, people. Jeez.


message 18: by João (new)

João Camilo (jcamilo) | 259 comments But it is more fun nitpicking and mocking the rules. Otherwise how would we be cool?


message 19: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
I'm all for mocking. Where would we be without mocking?


message 20: by Patrick, The Special School Bus Rider (new)

Patrick (horrorshow) | 269 comments Mod
Yeeea-yuhh! Keep a light hopeful heart but expect the worst?! What the hell does she know? Ooo, you just got burned, lady! :)


message 21: by João (last edited Mar 04, 2010 04:34PM) (new)

João Camilo (jcamilo) | 259 comments That is rule number 2 of the Paulo Coelho rules of Self-help for writers
2- Keep a light heart, except the worst, but rejoice as if it is the best. It is you that make it that way.
3 - Copy and Paste.


message 22: by Matt, e-monk (new)

Matt Comito | 386 comments Mod
or as Charles Pelligrino might say: when writing a work of non-fiction feel free to make shit up


message 23: by João (new)

João Camilo (jcamilo) | 259 comments ... but afterwards, move on, because Gravity is a damn critic.


message 24: by Martyn (new)

Martyn | 299 comments Matt wrote: "or as Charles Pelligrino might say: when writing a work of non-fiction feel free to make shit up"

laugh-out-loud


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