>Writer friends are passing around an amusing link that’s actually two links. First we’ve got Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules for Writing Fiction. With the preamble that “using adverbs is a mortal sin,” he offers such sound advice as “never use a verb other than ‘said’ to carry dialogue” and “use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.” It’s a good list, I recommend it; people shell out big bucks for MFAs and this is basically what they learn.
But then there’s Ten Rules for Writing Fiction (Part Two) in which several writers offer their own versions. Booker prize-winner Hilary Mantel suggests (among other things) getting an accountant. Joyce Carol Oates (who, for some reason, could only come up with seven rules), advises writers to “be alert to the possibilities of paragraphing.” Hmm. Annie Proulx (only five rules!) is all about taking it slow, and doing things, like writing longhand, to ensure that you do. Ian Rankin thinks all we need to do is be persistent and get lucky. Jeanette Winterson says, “Trust your creativity!” And that’s probably the best advice of all.