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Ten Rules for Writing Fiction
UK Ninja Mix
bram452
Well everyone else is doing it. Why can't I?

1) "Show, don't tell" is a beginner's strategy. Dramatize when it's time to dramatize, summarize when it's time to summarize. Knowing the difference is the job description.

2) Be concrete and specific.

3) Don't fear infodumps; telling people what's going on includes them in on the story. Just don't make them boring.

4) Withholding information breeds confusion. Providing information builds tension. (“The essential fact is to get real suspense you must let the audience have information." --Alfred Hitchcock)

5) Gentle emotions are more powerful than violent ones.

6) Think about how things smell and taste.

7) Write fast, edit ruthlessly.

8) Trust your readers to be as smart as you are, but don't assume they can read your mind.

9) Narrators aren't evil, nor are they sinless. Tell the story in a voice, but not about the voice.

10) Get out of the way. The more I use fiction to show everyone how clever I am, the more I compromise my story.


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I saw the article last week in the Guardian and bookmarked it. The first one on your list really hit a chord with me tonight. It reflected a conversation I was having with my gf earlier about a chapter draft. This is really helpful advice - thanks for posting it.

Brilliant. Thanks. (Number 7 is hard for me for some reason.)

They're all hard for me. Otherwise I wouldn't have to make a rule, right? :)

I have to agree with you there. I'm an amateur, so I have problems with (more than) all of the rules. Perhaps the order of my nemesis would change if I wrote more, but when I read #7 I let out a very definite sigh of guilt.

Also, yes, thanks for this list Daniel. I see the truth of it. :-)

#1 deserves to be where it is in the order. Old saws get rusty and give you tetanus. And it's heartening to see #3 in print. Some of the best story telling, in person or on the page, has glorious asides as well. They wander in wonderful ways.

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