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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

March 9, 2010

GUARDIAN COLLECTS WRITING RULES FROM WRITERS

Guardian - Get an accountant, abstain from sex and similes, cut, rewrite, then cut and rewrite again – if all else fails, pray. Inspired by Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing, we asked authors for their personal dos and don'ts

Elmore Leonard: Never open a book with weather. . .

Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue. . .

Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said" . . .

Avoid detailed descriptions of characters, which Steinbeck covered. In Ernest Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants", what do the "American and the girl with him" look like? "She had taken off her hat and put it on the table." That's the only reference to a physical description in the story.

Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

Diana Athill: Read it aloud to yourself . . .

Margaret Atwood: Take something to write on. Paper is good. In a pinch, pieces of wood or your arm will do.

Don't sit down in the middle of the woods. If you're lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. . .

Roddy Doyle: Regard every new page as a small triumph - until you get to Page 50. Then calm down, and start worrying about the quality. . .

Helen Dunmore: Reread, rewrite, reread, rewrite. . .

Geoff Dyer: Don't write in public places. . . .

If you use a computer, constantly refine and expand your autocorrect settings. The only reason I stay loyal to my piece-of-shit computer is that I have invested so much ingenuity into building one of the great auto­correct files in literary history. . .

Anne Enright: Only bad writers think that their work is really good.

Imagine that you are dying. If you had a terminal disease would you finish this book? Why not? . . .

You can also do all that with whiskey.

Richard Ford: Marry somebody you love and who thinks you being a writer's a good idea.

Don't have children.

Don't read your reviews.

Neil Gaiman: Write.

Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.

Put it aside. Read it pretending you've never read it before. . .

Laugh at your own jokes.

Lots more writers and lots more advice


1 Comments:

Anonymous If the Guardian knew anything about writing... said...

Good writing is more about truth than style. Most of the great writers have been denigrated because they were different, which is to say, reflections of their unique vision of truth. The reason current fiction is so crappy is that the truth is unacceptable to corporate assholes.

March 9, 2010 9:41 PM  

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