Freshly cherry-picked from The Guardian’s “Ten Rules for Writing Fiction,” From the likes of Elmore Leonard, Jonathan Franzen, Hillary Mantel, Sarah Waters, Roddy Doyle, AL Kennedy, Zadie Smith, and more, these heavyweights toss their two cents into the ring, preparing you to battle it out with the written word. Your Salonniere wants to know if you agree or disagree with any of these maxims.
From Elmore Leonard:
3 Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue. The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But “said” is far less intrusive than “grumbled”, “gasped”, “cautioned”, “lied”. I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with “she asseverated” and had to stop reading and go to the dictionary.
4 Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” . . . he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin. The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt the rhythm of the exchange. I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances “full of rape and adverbs”.
6 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.
7 You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there’s no free lunch. Writing is work. It’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but essentially you’re on your own. Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine.
Now what say you to some of these rules? Do you have any of your own that you’d like to add? Any listed here that you completely disagree with? The salon is open just for you.