Friday, April 16, 2010

Ten Writing Rules

The Guardian, a UK publication, published, "Ten rules for writing" in February, and writers around the web are still talking about it. Elmore Leonard, Jonathan Franzen, and PD James are just a few of the writers who weighed in with their insights about writing. Read the article, and you might find a few good tips. For instance, Leonard believes that using adverbs is a mortal sin--a piece of advice that makes me worried.
Photo courtesy of Peter Dutton

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Comedy and Tragedy

Do you feel a story must be dark to be serious, or does humor have a home in your deeper stories? William Skidelsky's article in the ("Women authors can lighten up and still be taken seriously: When Daisy Goodwin complained of too much 'grimness' in this year's list, she was lambasted. She should have been applauded") makes some points about the lighter points in life--and thus, in writing. Here's an excerpt:

...As a form, the novel has always worked best when, like life itself, it contains both joy and sorrow. Most great novelists have been brilliant at comedy as well as tragedy. And this is no less true of Jane Austen and George Eliot than it is of Tolstoy and Dickens.

Recently, however, there does seem to have been a movement away from comedy in fiction, a growing feeling that, in order to be serious", novels have to be dark in tone....

I admit that I'm biased on this point; I was raised by parents who believed that if you'd lost your sense of humor, you'd lost it all. I've had to suppress laughter at a funeral, and in the midst of every crisis I've had a moment during which I laughed to avoid crying. What do you think? Does comedy, however dark, find its way into your writing? Must a piece be devoid of humor to be "serious"?
Photo courtesy of Julie Elliott-Abshire at

The Casino & Other Writing Prompts

Pick a prompt that intrigues you in some way. Freewrite for ten minutes on the story it inspires--write without stopping or editing your work. At the end of ten minutes, you may have a story worth exploring. Or you might not. Don't worry about how it will turn out--just write!

--Ann walked into the casino....
-- I like spring because....
-- Dan began smiling. "Really? If that's true, then...." -- Is your clutter under control?
-- Combine a box, a tape recorder, and a fish in a story or poem.
-- If only he'd known....
Photo courtesy of William Picard at