Jonathan Franzen’s 10 Rules of Writing

For all you writers out there. This list was written by the American Novelist Jonathan Franzen, and has some great pointers for all of us rookies who can use all the help we can get.

I found this list on the onehundredonebooks blog, and found it interesting. So, I wanted to share it with you all. Enjoy!

  1. The reader is a friend, not an adversary, not a spectator.
  2. Fiction that isn’t an author’s personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown isn’t worth writing for anything but money.
  3. Never use the word “then” as a conjunction– we have “and” for this purpose. Substituting “then” is the lazy or tone-deaf writer’s non-solution to the problem of too many “ands” on the page.
  4. Write in the third person unless a really distinctive first-person voice offers itself irresistibly.
  5. When information becomes free and universally accessible, voluminous research for a novel is devalued along with it.
  6. The most purely autobiographical fiction requires pure invention. Nobody ever wrote a more auto biographical story than “The Metamorphosis”.
  7. You see more sitting still than chasing after.
  8. It’s doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction.
  9. Interesting verbs are seldom very interesting.
  10. You have to love before you can be relentless.

2 thoughts on “Jonathan Franzen’s 10 Rules of Writing

  1. As a fairly vigorously aspiring novelist, can honestly say #8 seems to be the case. Though I can imagine that the novelist who DOES manage this will probaby write the epochal novel of our age.
    Having said that, Franzen apparently writes in a completely featureless room, with various bits of his computer deliberately smashed up so he can’t plug himself in to the outside world, sometimes blindfolded. What this suggests about any advice he may give I leave to the reader’s deliberation.

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