Friday, February 26, 2010

10+ Rules for Writing Fiction- kind of

Lately the internet has been in love with the Guardian's 10 Rules of Writing Fiction by the authors at the top of the pile, people like Margaret Atwood (swoon) and Micheal Morpurgo and PD James. I hardly need to turn my head to bump into a link to the list. It was even on Boing Boing the other day!

Not to be left out, Blogger Tom Howard also came up with a list of 10 Rules for Writing Fiction. Here's a couple from Mr. Howard:

2. Writing in blood will add a much-needed touch of sickening horror to your work; it will also indicate to publishers that you mean business.

6. Never open a book with the weather. Use your fingers instead.

I thought it was time TfB got into the spirit and tried to come up with our own 10 Rules for Writing Fiction. I'll start us out.

1. Despite advice from the misguided, adverbs add colour. Where would the world be without bumpily, answerably, and remedially? How would you write the sentence- "I bumped along bumpily" without such lovely words?

2. Avoid characters that bite. If you're writing a novel, it might take years to finish. Try to get the cost of band-aids written into the contract. It adds up.

3. Settings waste time. Never mention them.

4. When writing, three things are mandatory: a cat to walk across the keyboard and delete the most perfect sentence you've ever written, chocolate in amounts that should not be revealed in polite company, and a connection to Facebook where you can brag about the fact that you are procrastinating.

5. Get a door. A big heavy one. With a lock. Preferably one that closes you inside of a room.

Okay- that's my contribution. Whatda ya got?


Sue Guiney said...

how about "tell all your friends you're writing a novel so that when you don't finish it you'll be sufficiently humiliated."

April Brown said...


I'd be happy to add you to my writing friends list on Facebook. I'm on Twitter too, though I don't post a lot. I can say, the short story you looked at for me a few years ago is finally going to be published this fall!

Have a great day,


Helen Ginger said...

If you get stuck, close your eyes, open a magazine and put your finger on a page. Whatever word it lands on, use that word in a sentence, then expand. (This works best if you're reading Oprah magazine. Your finger will most likely land on the word Oprah. If you use that word often in your manuscript, like maybe 700 times, you increase your odds of getting on her show.)

Straight From Hel

Tania Hershman said...

Another rule: Write only about close friends and family, sticking as much as possible to accurate details, while also ammassing funds for potential lawsuits and practising a "moi?" surprised and innocent expression.

Works for me!

Thanks for this, nice antedote to all the damn "rules"!

Lauri said...

Sue- That is a very good one. Motivation of a sort.

April- I don't remember that story. When was that? But I'm very happy you are getting published!Congrats!

Helen- I'm implementing that- I've wondered how all those writers get on Oprah. I think scattering Oprah's name every thousand words or so is an excellent idea.

Lauri said...

Oooo Tania- what fun!!!Yes yes. I knew all this drama had a place in my writing.

(I agree about the rules- they scare me, especially when I don't understand them)

Elspeth Futcher said...

Spend as much time avoiding writing as possible. Panic is a great motivator.

Anonymous said...

Tell your spouse or significant other you don't need their stinkin' support.

Stephen Tremp

Miriam Drori said...

Write every verb in the passive voice. Then you don't have to bother with describing characters. The act was done. Never mind who did it. Stuff happens.

オテモヤン said...


bonita said...

I like these rules, even if they are for fiction. I have one that is useful if ever you find yourself writing non-fiction:
Enter a general description of your topic into your favorite search engine. Then investigate every result the engine finds.