Saturday, 27 March 2010

Writing rules

I'm a big fan of the Guardian Books blog and never more than today, where there is a digest of many, many famous writers' rules for writing. They make for interesting, and potentially helpful reading.


Frances Garrood said...

Terrifying, especially the first ten!*. I've broken most of those. I have a prologue in two of my books, use adverbs (but sparingly) and sometimes words other than 'said'. As for exclamation marks, if someone actually makes an exclamation, then you need one. Otherwise, not. You can't shout 'help' when you're drowning without an exclamation mark. No-one would ever recue you.
* this is an exclamation!**
** and this is another

Alis said...

Hi Frances - what fascinated me (as well as what each individual came up with) was how different the lists were. There were some recurring themes - read a lot, write and write and write - but people felt that very different things make for good writing. There did, generally, seem to be a feeling that 'less is more' though which is interesting in a culture that has invented a form where 140 characters or fewer are supposed to be enough to say something worthwhile.

Deborah Swift said...

Oh Alis, these re great! I love Diana Athill's editing with a "very beady eye". I think I am guilty of most of the sins but probably not as much as what I used to be, she said acerbically!

I haven't enjoyed reading something so much for ages - and their own rules show up so well in their prose. Thanks for posting this. I shan't be taking them all on! (whoops! Another!)

Alis said...

Glad you liked them too, Dee. I was fascinated.