Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rules of writing according to Jonathan Franzen

I was surfing the internet the other day and I found these rules of writing if you want to be a writer. They made a lot of sense and it’s not hard to imagine that Franzen (a best-selling author) wrote them because he also has experienced the problems associated with not following them. So I am posting them here as guidelines—for myself and other budding writers. The biggest problem with sitting and writing is to do just that—to sit and write. And not get distracted—by the ping of your email box as it accepts a new email or by the urge to visit all the social media sites that your emails continually inform you about--that so-and-so has posted this or that on his or her wall. It is SO easy to get distracted. So #8 for me makes a lot of sense, followed by #2.
1.       The reader is a friend, not an adversary, not a spectator.
2.       Fiction that isn’t an author’s personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown isn’t worth writing for anything but money.
3.       Never use the word “then” as a conjunction– we have “and” for this purpose. Substituting “then” is the lazy or tone-deaf writer’s non-solution to the problem of too many “ands” on the page.
4.       Write in the third person unless a really distinctive first-person voice offers itself irresistibly.
5.       When information becomes free and universally accessible, voluminous research for a novel is devalued along with it.
6.       The most purely autobiographical fiction requires pure invention. Nobody ever wrote a more auto biographical story than “The Metamorphosis”.
7.       You see more sitting still than chasing after.
8.       It’s doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction.
9.       Interesting verbs are seldom very interesting.
10.   You have to love before you can be relentless.

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