Sunday, 21 November 2010

Two hours of separation from the 10 Rules for Writing Fiction

Merisi's blog -The papers: Viennese' style.

My Sunday morning newspaper is too small.
I still read for hours. I range wider (the image of a dusty cowboy distracted me for a minute - but it's OK I'm back) and the subject I read about can get worryingly specific. I've got one more hour, from the moment I press post, to enjoy the inky version of my Sunday morning reading.
I started with the round up from The Adventures in Children's Publishing and two hours, and a nagging headache later, I found myself back where I was last February. Aspiring writers, and the ones already knee or neck deep in the process, can benefit from the advice compiled in The Guardian. Authors were asked to write their Ten Rules for Writing Fiction.
I should be doing the Philip Pullman! I think Ian Rankin has it in a nut-shell in 5,7,8,9,and 10.
Michael Morpurgo MBE, OBE and previous Children's Laureate wrote his rules with voice, can't you just picture the soft leather chairs in his library? His wife, Clare, bustling aboutgrinning and chiming in from the doorway?
Michael Morpurgo
1 The prerequisite for me is to keep my well of ideas full. This means living as full and varied a life as possible, to have my antennae out all the time.
2 Ted Hughes gave me this advice and it works wonders: record moments, fleeting impressions, overheard dialogue, your own sadnesses and bewilderments and joys.
3 A notion for a story is for me a confluence of real events, historical perhaps, or from my own memory to create an exciting fusion.
It is the gestation time which counts.
5 Once the skeleton of the story is ready I begin talking about it, mostly to Clare, my wife, sounding her out.
6 By the time I sit down and face the blank page I am raring to go. I tell it as if I'm talking to my best friend or one of my grandchildren.
7 Once a chapter is scribbled down rough – I write very small so I don't have to turn the page and face the next empty one – Clare puts it on the word processor, prints it out, sometimes with her own comments added.
8 When I'm deep inside a story, living it as I write, I honestly don't know what will happen. I try not to dictate it, not to play God.
9 Once the book is finished in its first draft, I read it out loud to myself. How it sounds is hugely important.
10 With all editing, no matter how sensitive – and I've been very lucky here – I react sulkily at first, but then I settle down and get on with it, and a year later I have my book in my hand.
Then. After the reading comes the writing. I am two chapters from the end of COUNTERS. Betrayal. Abandonment. Reconciliation. Hope. 
Not much left to write at all.


  1. I read this article a while back, but I'd forgotten how good the advice was. Must get in the habit of writing in a notebook!

  2. Hi Melissa
    Remember to keep track of your notebook - once you start keeping notes - the little bleeders multiply. ;)

  3. Hello and Happy Sunday. Only two chapters left to write. Fantastic. Go you.

  4. Popped by to say hello. Thanks for leaving a message for me, I've responded to it hope you get to read it.
    I like this article and yes the advice is sound. Hope your Sunday has been productive. :)

  5. Hi Ivy :)
    Thank you for the happy thoughts. I am hastening towards the end. Hope it is going at yours? I'll be along later.

    Thanks for stopping by. I wandered over to yours don't you all look busy. Sunday is Sunday, never predicatable. My thinking is going well. I've seen most of it through, the writing is going slower. :)

  6. I'm very happy for you. Can't wait to read your post when you're done.

  7. Congrats Elaine. Only two left - whoohoo.

    Thanks for the writing tips.


  8. Hi Donna
    *blushes Thanks :)
    I find the end is always the hardest: I think because I don't really want it to end.