Ever since I read W. Somerset Maugham’s quote about his three rules for writing a novel, I’ve been thinking about it. Here’s what Maugham said:
There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
It’s kind of joke, I know. But it’s also serious. Maugham wrote twenty novels and a lot of other stuff, too, and he knew what he was doing. I can’t be sure, but I think he was saying that the art or craft of writing is a mystery to even those who are successful—the rules are hard (if not impossible) to articulate. And yet, there are books written, there are rules and there are guidelines. Individually we can each have certain truths we write by (or don’t).
It made me wonder if I have any rules for writing—or truths I write by—and if I do, are they worthy of sharing?
After I thought about it for a few days (and about writing a post about it), I wondered if other writers could or would synthesize their writing process into just three rules. So I did what any modern (and uncertain) writer would do, I asked on Facebook. Specifically the Writer Unboxed Facebook group.
I posted the Maugham quote and asked if anyone had rules for writing fiction.
Here’s what I got. [Read more…]