Seems every writing blogger has come up with a few of these and apologies but I’m still working through mine — been stuck with writer’s block at number six.
So here is a link to an amusing, if forthright, list from a blog by American writer Chuck Wendig and tweeted by Claire King.
There’s a simile in number 14 which I thought I’d never see used in a writing context!
I hope number 15 Â (‘Act like an asshole, get treated like an asshole’ ) applies to the world of writing because, in my experience, it doesn’t always tend to happen in real life although it could be the logline of many a successful novel.
I do like number 20 a lot, ‘Writing is about words, storytelling is about life’, as it gives a satisfying feeling of validation to my visceral dislike of the sort of Sunday supplement article you get at the year end: ’20 Important New Writers Under 21 You Must Read’. I do think the most interesting writers are those who’ve actually had life experiences and have got out and done things rather than just start writing about themselves and their clique of friends at university. As the blog says: ‘Experience things. Otherwise, what the fuck are you going to talk about?’
And as a footnote this article from The Guardian is a worth a scan: http://www.guardian.co.uk/edinburgh/2011/apr/21/writing-literary-commercial-sara-sheridan
What’s most interesting is Sarah Sheridan’s point near the start that the publishing industry has only recently discovered how unprofitable ‘literary fiction’ actually is — with an audience not much bigger than the people writing and reviewing it and teaching and studying courses in it (which seems to be the situation poetry is in).
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.