10 tips

On WritingBack in 2010, The Guardian published an article entitled “Ten Rules for Writing Fiction“. The title is misleading. The list includes far more than 10 rules as it’s a compilation of several writers’ top tips.

While I don’t agree with every single rule, there are a few that stand out as brilliant. Here are my 10 favorites:

  1. If it sounds like writing, rewrite it, (Elmore Leonard).
  2. Read it aloud to yourself because that’s the only way to be sure the rhythms of the sentences are OK, (Diana Athill).
  3. 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, (Margaret Atwood).
  4. Do not place a photograph of your ­favourite author on your desk, especially if the author is one of the famous ones who committed suicide, (Roddy Doyle).
  5. A problem with a piece of writing often clarifies itself if you go for a long walk, (Helen Dunmore).
  6. Have more than one idea on the go at any one time. If it’s a choice between writing a book and doing nothing I will always choose the latter. It’s only if I have an idea for two books that I choose one rather than the other. I ­always have to feel that I’m bunking off from something, (Geoff Dyer).
  7. 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, (AL Kennedy).
  8. Fiction that isn’t an author’s personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown isn’t worth writing for anything but money, (Jonathan Franzen).
  9. The way to write a book is to actually write a book. A pen is useful, typing is also good. Keep putting words on the page, (Anne Enright).
  10. The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter, (Neil Gaiman).

About Ash Martin
Ash Martin writes dark fantasy and horror, has a thing for classic monster legends, Nordic mythology, coffee, and sarcasm, and is currently working on multiple books.

2 Responses to 10 tips

  1. Nice list. I especially like #8 – Franzen. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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