The Rules of Creative Writing — My Essay for the MMU MA in Creative Writing

Here’s a pdf of my essay on ‘The Rules of Creative Writing’.Click on the link to read –> Reading Novels 2 Assessment MMU MA in Creative Writing

I’m posting it now because I was worried I’d get a fail because (to my mind) I didn’t address the question properly — spending more time on pitting Nabokov against Stephen King — and I didn’t quote the books on the reading list very extensively, although I managed to reference four of them. I didn’t mention my own writing in detail at all. In the end, I got the impression from the comments that I missed getting a distinction just because the formatting wasn’t to the required standard (it was cobbled together over a couple of days and only just made the deadline so I couldn’t be bothered honing the prose and fonts too much).

There’s a surprisingly political element to it — and a European vs American split.

Thanks to Charlotte Haigh, Rick Kellum and Guy Russell for providing ‘rules’ — the lecturer thought the appendix they’re quoted in was very interesting. There are various blogs referenced by people I follow on Twitter  and quoted from in a couple of cases  – by Debi Alper, Emma Darwin and Nicola Morgan.

The full reading list that we needed to refer is below — and virtually all the authors broke ‘The Rules’. Prose by the likes of the Spark and Drabble written 50 years or so ago was so contrary to all the currently dispensed ‘rules’ that I don’t think they’d get published as a debut author these days (not if a lot of writing advice is taken literally). I liked the Nabokov best, was surprised by how much I liked Piers Paul Reid, liked the wit in the Spark and Drabble, admired the technique of Coetzee, Naipaul and Lessing but was somewhat underwhelmed by the Barker, Burgess, Jacobson and Black.

Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Vladimir Nabokov, Pnin

Margaret Drabble, The Millstone

Anthony Burgess, The Malayan Trilogy

V.S. Naipaul, Miguel Street

Doris Lessing, The Fifth Child

J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace

Benjamin Black, Elegy for April

Nicola Barker, Small Holdings

Howard Jacobson, The Finkler Question

Piers Paul Read, The Misogynist

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