Wise Writers

10 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. (Elmore Leonard)

4 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. (Roddy Doyle)

9 Interesting verbs are seldom very interesting. (Jonathan Franzen)

2 Read widely and with discrimination. Bad writing is contagious. (PD James)

5 Be aware that anything that appears before “Chapter One” may be skipped. Don’t put your vital clue there. (Hilary Mantel)

4 Unless you are writing something very avant-garde – all gnarled, snarled and “obscure” – be alert for possibilities of paragraphing. (Joyce Carol Oates)

6 Avoid cliques, gangs, groups. The presence of a crowd won’t make your writing any better than it is. (Zadie Smith)

Just a taste of the advice proffered by a bunch of very experienced writers in the Guardian’s “Ten Rules for Writing Fiction.”

In Part I, you’ve got: Elmore Leonard, Diana Athill, Margaret Atwood, Roddy Doyle, Helen Dunmore, Geoff Dyer, Anne Enright, Richard Ford, Jonathan Franzen, Esther Freud, Neil Gaiman, David Hare, PD James, AL Kennedy

And in Part II, there are: Hilary Mantel, Michael Moorcock, Michael Morpurgo, Andrew Motion, Joyce Carol Oates, Annie Proulx, Philip Pullman, Ian Rankin, Will Self, Helen Simpson, Zadie Smith, Colm Tóibín, Rose Tremain, Sarah Waters, Jeanette Winterson

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