Monday, February 22, 2010

Ten Rules for Writing Fiction

The Guardian is currently featuring "Ten Rules for Writing Fiction" (and part two) from writers like Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, and Joyce Carol Oates.  Most of them are pretty useless, but Elmore Leonard's advice on using "suddenly," regional dialect, and exclamation points is right on target:
Keep your exclamation points ­under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. If you have the knack of playing with exclaimers the way Tom Wolfe does, you can throw them in by the handful.
Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose". This rule doesn't require an explanation. I have noticed that writers who use "suddenly" tend to exercise less control in the application of exclamation points.
Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly. Once you start spelling words in dialogue phonetically and loading the page with apos­trophes, you won't be able to stop. Notice the way Annie Proulx captures the flavour of Wyoming voices in her book of short stories Close Range.
Of course, I disagree with his points on character descriptions and adverbs, so take everything on the list with a humongous grain or salt, or, suddenly, all hell will quickly break loose, y'all!

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails