Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Rules for Writing Fiction

So you want to write a novel. Cool. Do you have a writing routine? What are they? Share them with us. I know no one's routine is like another’s. I had none in the beginning. I was undisciplined. Somehow I finished my first novel and looked like a marathoner who came in last. While writing FLESH, which will be published by Black Heron Press in 2011, I was regimented. I wrote every day. Each day faithfully by sticking to the seven rules—7 is my lucky number.
#1—find discipline in solitude, in aloneness so you can meet your characters. It’s like a rendez-vous with ghosts. Then make that meeting every day or every night with no excuses.
#2—write each scene as if it were the only thing in your universe; it must command all your attention.
#3—write one scene well and that scene would breed the next scene.
#4—leave room for readers to participate: don’t overwrite.
#5—stop where you still have something to say so the next day you wouldn’t face a dry well.
#6—read each day to keep your mind off your own writing.
#7—dont believe in any other rules except yours.
If you were born to write, write something, even if its just a suicide note. When you write, youre the only writer that exists, none before you, none after you. Somewhere I remember Toni Morrison once said, "I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it."

Let me ask you: Do you take anything you read seriously? I do, only when it really knocks me out. "You wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it." Don
t you love a reader like Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye? And Groucho Marx. "From the moment I picked up your book until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it."


  1. Good post.

    Many writers don't realize the discipline it takes to write a novel. Congratulations on "Flesh". What genre is it?

    I found this post through AgentQuery and shall bookmark it.

    Thanks again,

    Ron Repp

  2. Thanks, Ron. FLESH is a literary novel. In fact, Black Heron Press publishes mainly literary fiction and many of its titles have won prestigious literary awards since 1996.

  3. Excellent rules to write by. #4 is one I should have in front of me at all times.

    I'm on the same page with Toni Morrison: I write what I want to read. I don't always succeed, sometimes I bore myself silly...but I try.

  4. Hehe. I looked at all the yummy tomatoes you had yesterday and dreamed a horrid dream about my sis.