A few weeks ago I posted Kurt Vonnegut’s writing tips. Since that post was so well received (thank you for that!), I’m going to start posting rules from writers from time to time. This week, we have front row seats to Jonathan Franzen’s Words of Wisdom. I’ve mentioned his novel Freedom a few times before, but just in case you think it deserves another plug, here it is: Freedom is amazing. You should read it. Jonathan Franzen has a way with words, weaving beauty into the mundane while sucking us into his carefully crafted story lines.
Without further ado, Jonathan Franzen’s top ten rules for aspiring writers:
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 autobiographical 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. (Franzen physically disables the Net portal on his writing laptop)
9. Interesting verbs are seldom very interesting.
10. You have to love before you can be relentless.
Source: The Guardian