15 writing rules from kick-ass writers
Write down that awesome idea before you forget it #books #fiction #storytelling #instabooks #amwriting #ideas #creative

1. Neil Gaiman

The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can.


2. Elmore Leonard

Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them.

3. Roddy Doyle

Do give the work a name as quickly as possible. Own it, and see it. Dickens knew Bleak House was going to be called Bleak House before he started writing it. The rest must have been easy.

4. Ester Freud

A story needs rhythm. Read it aloud to yourself. If it doesn’t spin a bit of magic, it’s missing something.


5. AL Kennedy

Remember you love writing. It wouldn’t be worth it if you didn’t. If the love fades, do what you need to and get it back.


6. John Steinbeck

If you are using dialogue, say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.


7. George Orwell

Never use a long word where a short one will do.


8. Susan Sontag

Love words, agonize over sentences. And pay attention to the world.

9. Margaret Atwood

It’s tough out there in Bookworld. Tread carefully. Don’t speak so softly that you can’t be heard, nor so loudly that you’re deafening. Carry a medium-sized shtick.

10. John Irving

Titles are important; I have them before I have books that belong to them. I have last chapters in my mind before I see first chapters, too. I usually begin with endings, with a sense of aftermath, of dust settling, of epilogue. I love plot, and how can you plot a novel if you don’t know the ending first? How do you know how to introduce a character if you don’t know how he ends up?


11. Bret Easton Ellis

I start with a rough outline, an experimental, very free-form first draft that’s based on everything I want to include in the novel but that I also know won’t make it into the final draft. And in that first draft there are exercises, samples of how I imagine the narrator might speak if describing something. I ask questions like, Can I use metaphors with this narrator? Will he be able to see something as something else? No, Patrick Bateman won’t be able to do that. Everything is all surface for him.

12. Alan Hollinghurst

I tend to have some significant plot resolution just before the end, and then a coda that leaves things in the air. I think it’s a way of returning the novel to life, of saying that there are always things beyond the shape and scope of the novel.

13. Zadie Smith

Work on a computer that is disconnected from the ­internet.


14. Jojo Moyes

Don’t set pen to paper until you know your main characters inside out. Create files detailing their appearances, likes, dislikes, and personal background. You may not use all the information, but it is a crucial step in planning your story.

15. Donna Tartt

With all my books, I start with a general mood before I have a story. “The Secret History” very much started from a mood. A mood of cold rooms, ink on your hands and feeling homesick, away from home for the first time.

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