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The Seventh Rule for Writing a Modern Novel

March 10, 2013 at 7:16 am

Use Dialect Sparingly I do agree with this rule. When this rule says ‘dialect’ it’s talking about (I think!) those passages where characters start talking like this, “‘e said that ‘e couldn’t roolly work out that what I was talkin’ ‘boot.’ While I don’t mind this in small doses, in big ones it can be very annoying. I can remember skipping passages of the book Wuthering Heights because I couldn’t understand what one of the characters was saying, as the writing was so dialect-heavy. So there can definitely be too much. Not only that, but you need to make sure […]

The Sixth Rule for Writing a Modern Novel

March 6, 2013 at 6:43 am

Never use the words ‘suddenly’ or ‘all hell broke loose’ I haven’t ever used ‘all hell broke loose’, but I do confess that there are a few ‘suddenly’s in The Heir. It’s interesting, because even before I saw this list, I didn’t really like them there, but I wasn’t sure if I was fussing about nothing. It looks like I wasn’t fussing about nothing! So although they will appear in The Heir a few times I will try and cut them out of its two sequels. So what do I put instead of ‘suddenly’? I guess it depends on the […]

The Fifth Rule for Writing a Modern Novel

March 3, 2013 at 7:07 am

Keep Your Exclamation Points Under Control I love using exclamation points. A lot. You can probably tell just from what I’ve written so far on this website! But there is definitely a point, especially in a book, where they can become too much. I also don’t like it when, in professional writing, I see a string of them – !!!!!!!!!! after dialogue. You really only need one to communicate that the person is surprised or shouting or whatever. I don’t think adding exclamation points increases the level of the character’s anger. But when using single exclamation points how much is […]

The Fourth Rule for Writing a Modern Novel

February 28, 2013 at 7:06 am

Never use an adverb to modify the verb ‘said’ I have less of a problem with this rule, but I still don’t think it’s hard and fast. There is a definitely a degree of truth to it. Do we really need to write ‘Jane said excitedly’ or should Jane’s words carry across the realisation that she is excited? Is it necessary to put in terms like ‘gravely’ or ‘loudly’ or ‘boorishly’ to communicate how the character is speaking? I think it is correct that these things are often not needed. I have tried to avoid them as much as possible […]

The Third Rule for Writing a Modern Novel

February 25, 2013 at 7:06 am

Never Use a Verb Other than ‘Said’ to Carry Dialogue I hate this rule. I do understand it. When I read books where it seems that the writer must use something different every time a character opens his mouth it can get annoying very quickly. If they think they MUST avoid ‘said’ at all costs and use ‘protested’ or ‘interrupted’ or ‘exclaimed’, trying to find a different one each time – ugh! However, I don’t think going in the other direction and using ‘said’ every time is a good idea either. I first encountered this rule when I was doing […]

Rule Number Two for Writing a Modern Novel

February 22, 2013 at 6:48 am

Avoid Prologues This one I haven’t broken yet, although I am considering it with my latest novel. I honestly think it will work better with a prologue. The dictionary defines a prologue as a ‘separate introductory section of literary or musical work’. Basically, it’s a (usually) brief section that establishes the setting of the story. Some have also been teasers of what will happen later in the novel. Perhaps it could be argued that writers do that to try and keep the reader’s interest through a boring beginning, but I’m not sure that could be applied in every case. I […]

The First Rule for Writing a Modern Novel

February 19, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Never Open a Book with the Weather One of the first things my publisher said to me before she read my book was, ‘I hope you don’t talk about the weather in the first paragraph!’ I didn’t. Instead, I talked about it in the second paragraph. Yes, that’s the truth. It’s still there, and the book is about to be printed. But here’s the thing – the season in which the book is set is significant as far as the story goes. It’s autumn and my female protagonist, through whom we experience all the action, loves colour and delights in […]

Rules for writing?

February 16, 2013 at 8:25 am

I recently came across this on someone’s Facebook page: The Rules for Writing a Modern Novel Never open a book with the weather Avoid prologues Never use a verb other than ‘said’ to carry dialogue Never use an adverb to modify the verb ‘said’ Keep your exclamation points under control Never use the words ‘suddenly’ or ‘all hell broke loose’ Use dialect sparingly Avoid detailed descriptions of characters Avoid detailed descriptions of places or things Leave out the parts readers tend to skip   After reading this list I was more than a little depressed. I think I break every […]

My journey in writing

January 30, 2013 at 8:01 pm

When I was three years old I decided I wanted to be an actress. When I was four I decided I wanted to be a writer. When I was five I decided I wanted to be a hairdresser. I think it’s a good thing I gave that one up! Even though the desire to do people’s hair faded quickly, the desire both to act and write stayed with me. I spent most of my daylight hours making up stories in my head and acting them out, always for no other reason than because it was fun. I can remember the […]