Saturday, 20 February 2010


Today’s Guardian has an article in the Review section called
Ten rules for writering fiction.
This immediately caught my eye because; I have to admit, I am a list freak.
  • If you give me a problem, I will write a list.
  • If I have too much to do, I will write a list.
  • If I think things are out of control, I will write a list.
  • When I am buying a house or planning a holiday, I will write a list.
  • When I am shopping, I don't usually make a list!
Lists have guided me through my life. The thing about lists is that they give a sense of being in control of things even when you have done exactly nothing about the object of the list. It gives a feeling that there is a plan. That’s the secret - planning. Of course, it’s important to rank order the list, preferably putting a number 1 next to the most important item and a 2 to the next most important item and so on. This approach is helpful because it means you do the most important things first and don’t spend lots of time prevaricating on a less important item on the list. It can be tricky deciding which order to put things in because everything seems important… but, hey, life is about making choices!

There, I’ve admitted I am a list freak, but what about other people’s lists, like the one in the guardian today? Again, I admit it, I like other people’s lists, but only if they are good lists. In my word documents I have a file called creative writing/writing tips/authors tips. I looked in it and found…lists. Here are some of them:

1. Ma's editing check list. Develop a hide of a Rhino.
2. Ten Commandments for the Happy Writer by Nathan Bransford.
3. 8 Writing tips from Kurt Vonnegut.
4. Top Ten Tips for Writing a Novel by Pearl Luke.
5. Seven deadly sins of novel writing by the book muse.

The lists in today’s guardian article are made in heaven. There are lists of ‘rules for writers’ from 29 well known authors. They include Sarah Waters, Margaret Atwood, AL Kennedy, PD James and Zadie Smith. Most authors have produced a list of ten rules, but some have less. Helen Simpson. writes that she has only one rule… ‘get on with it.’ Some lists are short -Ian Rankin’s, has only two words for each rule, or they can be long… Sarah Waters list covers a column and a half.

I’m travelling by train to Wegieland later, so I intend to immerse myself in top authors lists… mmmm.

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