Crime stabbed fiction (by Jonathan Wolstenholme via Points de Fuite)
I’ve been doing a lot of writing recently. When I was feeling a bit disheartened today I revisited the Guardian’s good old Rules for Writing Fiction (though the rules could apply to writing anything). After reading them, I found myself a bit more disheartened. So I went and wrote this poem.
The rest is easy
I like a lot of talk in a book
and I don’t like to have nobody tell me
what the guy that’s talking looks like
I want to figure out what he looks like
from the way he talks.
Never say “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose”.
The reader will just leaf ahead
looking for people.
When an idea comes, spend silent time with it.
Good ideas are often murdered
by better ones. Afterwards
it won’t matter to you that the kitchen’s a mess.
The rest is easy.
Perfectly formed and spelt words emerge
from a few brief keystrokes.
On the page they flare
into desire. A lot of men still think that women
lack imagination of the fiery kind.
I once noticed Mary McCarthy
ending a line of dialogue with
and I had to stop reading.
If it was bad when it went in the drawer
it will be worse when it comes out.
Stop feeling sorry for yourself.
Jean Plaidy managed 5,000 before lunch
then spent the afternoon answering fan mail.
No amount of black pullovers or being
will ever add up to your being a writer.
Your own life will never have
Dickens knew Bleak House was going to be called Bleak House
before he started writing it.
But if you’re writing a novel with a contemporary setting
there need to be long passages where nothing happens
save for TV watching.
Don’t write in public places.
Don’t make telephone calls or go to a party.
No going to London.
No going anywhere else either.
The first twelve years are the worst.
If nobody will put your play on
put it on yourself. No one cares.
Don’t write letters
to the editor. No one cares.
Read Keats’s letters.
In my 30s I used to go to the gym
even though I hated it. Was I performing a haka,
or just shuffling my feet?
But it is the gestation time
which counts. Writers
write. On you go.