I was tweeting in pique at the weekend while watching Sue Perkins’s documentary on genre fiction — a programme that I’ll probably get around to blogging about more at length but I put a comment on The Art’s Desk’s review — click here to read it. Â A couple of my tweets were picked up and replied to or retweeted by literary people, including one of the Independent’s Offical Top 100 Tweeters, Carole Blake and I picked up a few extra Twitter followers to add to my modest total as a result.
One of these is the writer Claire King and I followed a few links to her very interesting blog, which has a very sensible comment on the holy wars between literary and genre fiction that Sue Perkins’s documentary appeared to have stirred up.
However, I was most intrigued by the fifteen rules of writing that featured in another post:Â http://www.claire-king.com/2011/02/23/15-rules-for-writing-novels/
I’m sure that almost anyone who has been in a creative writing class will twitch in recognition at most them. It’s interesting to read the list of comments as it seems not every contributor seems to have inferred the same intention from the rules as I did. I particularly like number 7.
A few commenters have added rules from famous writers like Kurt Vonnegut and Jonathan Franzen. Franzen’s don’t seem to particularly helpful, more a manifesto for his own approach (particularly his phobia about the Internet) but I particularly liked his first: ‘ The reader is a friend, not an adversary, not a spectator’.
This tends to contradict most of his other rules imho but I believe it should be borne in mind far more in creative writing workshops than it is. A normal reader wants to like a book. After all they’ve paid for it (or gone to the trouble of borrowing it) and are prepared to invest a considerable amount of time with it. They’re not taking 3,000 words and examining every single one as writers and critical readers who review each others’ work for the best of motives. They’re not going to throw the book in the bin because a writer has used a lazy ‘then’ in a sentence (his rule three) but they might feel resentful if something on the macro level leaves them short-changed, like an unresolved and poorly developed conclusion to the plot.