Ten Rules for Writing x2

Here are some favorite rules of other authors.


  1. Write.  –Neil Gaiman
  2. Use short paragraphs.  –Ernest Hemingway
  3. Every character should want something even if it’s a glass of water.  –Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
  4. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.  –Elmore Leonard
  5. Write the book you want to read.  –Chuck Palahniuk
  6. If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water. –Hemingway
  7. If you’re using a computer, always safe guard new text with a memory stick.  –Margaret Atwood
  8. The first twelve years are the worst.  –Anne Enright
  9. Never complain about not being understood.  You can choose to be understood, or you can choose not to.  –David Hare
  10. Read widely and with discrimination.  Bad writing is contagious.  –PD James

Here’s a Ten Rules for Writing list I wrote.

  1. Live first, write second.  Experience is the best form of reference.
  2. Use a good dictionary, get the most out of your words.
  3. Use the thesaurus sparingly.  Too many fancy words can bog down your writing and make you seem like an asshole.  But, this is fine if your narrative is assholish.
  4. Learn whatever you can, be honest with yourself and your knowledge.  Don’t be a know-it-all.  Nobody likes a know-it-all, not even other know-it-alls.  People can see through bullshit.
  5.  Don’t leave your characters alone for too long.  Like real people, they will become cold and resentful if you don’t pay attention to them.
  6. Feel free to make up words, in modest.  Purists may not like it, but screw them.
  7. Write under any type of circumstance.  Bizarre shit will come out of your head when you’re sick, drunk, angry, et cetera.
  8. Embrace your emotions, whatever they may be.  No one likes a robot, unless of course your character is a robot.
  9. Learn to make fun of yourself.  Everyone’s an idiot at some point.  This type of humility can develop your writing and connect readers to you and your character’s humanness, unless again you’re a robot.
  10.  Justify your use of language, a nice person uses nice words.  Styles make characters, even if they’re robots.

One thought on “Ten Rules for Writing x2

  1. I totally agree with some of those. Using anything other than said becomes a never ending cycle of trying to find new words when SAID works just fine heh. I saw a page of dialog in a book once which had around 15 different words instead of said and it was just comical and distracting. Also on your rule #7 – I had a plan to be completely drunk for 3 months and just sit and write, when not drinking. No one I told the plan to thought it a good plan. I still think it’s a stellar one and will try to implement it soon 😀

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