Ten rules for writing fiction, Jonathan Franzen

I’m running a series of posts of several authors’ Ten Rules for Writing Fiction. These rules were all published in an article in the Guardian, February, 2010. Can’t say I agree with all the rules, but it’s interesting to read—one writer’s bete noir is sometimes another’s signature prose. So don’t take them tooooo seriously:

Jonathan Franzen

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 auto¬biographical story than “The Meta¬morphosis”.

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.

9 Interesting verbs are seldom very interesting.

10 You have to love before you can be relentless.