February 24, 2010

Rules for Writing

Today, I just wanted to point to two wonderful articles on advice to writers.

The first, “Ten Rules for Writing Fiction,” is a wonderful gathering of ten rules by the Guardian from all kinds of different writers. There’s Elmore Leonard’s timeless ten rules, which inspired the piece. I vehemently agree with all his rules, particularly to avoid prologues and to use “said” only as an attribute. And I love “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.” Other writers include Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaimen, Annie Proulx, Zadie Smith, and more. So great!

The second, which I particularly love, is “A Reader’s Advice to Writers,” by Laura Miller on Salon. What I love about it is that it gets to the nitty gritty of what keeps a reader reading. I particularly like #3 “The components of a novel that readers care about most are, in order: story, characters, theme, atmosphere/setting.” If you eliminate the elements staring at the end of the list, you’re writing a mass-market thriller ~ big on story, small on timelessness. If you eliminate the elements at the beginning of the list, you may be writing a literary masterpiece, but few people may read it.

That’s all.

What I’m Reading Today: I finished Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy. It’s probably one of the reasons I’m a writer ~ I see that now. It’s got all the greatness of both an adult book and a kids’ book. Just great.

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