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  • Writer's pictureRussell Cornhill

The Rules of Writing

Updated: Nov 25, 2023

  1. Rules were made to be broken. Remember, there is an exception to every rule and an exception to every exception except when the exception is an exception to the exception.

  2. Write what you know. If this is a problem, spend the next fifty years reading (or at least living) and then come back.

  3. Write what you enjoy. Hopefully, this doesn’t mean you will have to write while in jail.

  4. Make the first line grab the reader’s attention. God is dead. I killed President Kennedy. In exactly five hours, thirty-six minutes and twenty-four seconds, the world will explode. If you don’t buy this book, my assassin will kill you. You wouldn’t know what a good first line was if it was force fed to you up a straw jammed into your right nostril.

  5. Make the first two pages sizzle. No, you don’t throw it on the barbecue with the sausages.

  6. Make interesting characters. Damn, there goes the autobiography.

  7. Know your character. The Writers Centres can arrange an Introduction Agency for small fee. Of course, if your character already talks to you while you’re in bed, you may not need this service.

  8. Maintain the suspense. Hang your manuscript from the ceiling with a very strong piece of elastic.

  9. Raise the stakes. Cut the elastic. I didn’t mean that elastic.

  10. Don’t use too many adjectives or adverbs. This is actually, very, very, very important. There is absolutely no way this extremely important rule can be stated strongly enough.

  11. Avoid repetition. This is another, very, very, very, very, very important rule. There is absolutely no need to repeat anything, no need to repeat anything at all. Repeating anything can never achieve any purpose. There is absolutely no reason to ever repeat anything. This would never achieve any purpose whatsoever. Never, ever, ever. Don’t ever repeat anything. Ever!

  12. Attend as many workshops and writer’s conventions as you can. Even if this doesn’t improve your writing, your money will be spent nurturing some real talent.

  13. If in doubt, refer to rule one.

The Rules of Writing
The Rules of Writing

Any extra suggestions gratefully accepted. I'll add more as I learn more but I guess that means the list will grow as long as my brains still working. Ah gee, finished already.

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