Thursday, April 7, 2011

Three Rules for Writing a Novel


(photo courtesy of sxc.hu/)

"There are three rules for writing a novel.
Unfortunately, no one knows what they are."
                                                                                                            --William Somerset Maugham

Ha, gotcha'! And you thought, 1...2...3, you were going to get a simple answer?

If it were only that easy!

Maybe this will help?

"Do not put statements in the negative form.
And don't start sentences with a conjunction.
If you reread your work, you will find on reading that a
great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
De-accession euphemisms.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague."
                                                                                                       --William Safire, "Great Rules of Writing"

Hmmm. Maybe we're getting closer, but still...

How about this one?

"The big secret is the ability to stay in the room." --Ron Carlson

Ahhh, maybe we're finally getting somewhere. And then again:

"Successful writers are not the ones who write the best sentences. They are the ones who keep writing. They are the ones who discover what is most important and strangest and most pleasurable in themselves, and keep believing in the value of their work, despite the difficulties." --Bonnie Friedman

There you go. Rule #1, 2, 3--all rules--come back to the one that trumps all: Write, and keep writing. And keep believing in the value of your work, despite the difficulties.

Oh, maybe there is one more. A clincher that can only be said of today's day and age (at least for me):

"Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the Internet." --Anonymous

Good luck!

What's the best "rule" in your book for writing, and for getting it done?

14 comments:

  1. Love it, thanks! The last one is particularly apt. And here I am catching up on people's blogs instead of writing...still, if we call it networking and building a platform it's okay, right?

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  2. Hee hee. Three rules? Oh if iy were only that easy. Here's one: Stop trying to make it perfect. Write the best you can in that moment.

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  3. Oh...I though we were going to get three great tips on how to write a novel. ;)

    Loved the quotes, especially this one

    "Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the Internet."

    I took a break from writing to post my blog, then decided to check few...that is distraction, Kenda. :)

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  4. Ha! Who, me? Distracted by the internet? Never! Um...okay, so I should probably go work on my latest manuscript now :)

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  5. My favourite one is still 'Write the book you want to read' - then hopefully you'll be so excited about it that the Butt In Chair part will be easier, and also that excitement will convey itself to your readers.

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  6. Oh and also - 'Read, read, read.' The best way to learn is from good novels.

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  7. Love this: Successful writers are not the ones who write the best sentences. They are the ones who keep writing.

    Amen to that!

    Have a great weekend!

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

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  8. "Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the Internet." --Anonymous

    Nice one. And now, on to my next writing project -- right after a quick forum update and maybe a search around youtube...

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  9. These were all so good and I love the ones the other commenters added. My favorite is from Ernest Hemingway: For a long time now I have tried simply to write the best I can. Sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can.

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  10. This was fabulous...you had me smiling the whole time! I really liked Bonnie Friedman's quote--sometimes you just need to DO something!

    Carla

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  11. If only it were that easy! Loved this post, well done!

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  12. Great quotes! The humor really makes the points memorable. Keep up the good work!

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  13. "They are the ones who discover what is most important and strangest and most pleasurable in themselves, and keep believing in the value or their work, despite the difficulties"....I find this incredibly encouraging for my "inner writer". Thanks!!!

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  14. Thanks to all who dropped by with comments!

    Karen, Girl Friday, and Catherine--thanks for sharing your favorite lines, as well. I'm going to file those away in my favorites folder, too.

    And, supermom, glad to pass along a bit of encouragement. Just remember, your "inner writer" is working, even when you don't realize it :-)

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