Too Serious? Five Writing Tips From the Masters

Time for a laugh break!

Time for a laugh break!

I'm plugging away on a new book.  It's the first few chapters, the set-up of the story, which is the toughest part of a book for me to write.  During this part of the writing: I'm uber-serious, worried, self-critical, at times bereft. This is not the time to diet.

So I thought it time to bring a smile to those who are toiling away on the keyboard. Below are five quasi-serious to tongue-in-cheek rules of writing from some of the best in the biz.

Elmore Leonard.  Avoid prologues: they can be annoying, especially a prologue that follows an introduction that comes after a foreword.  But these are ordinarily found in nonfiction. A prologue in a novel is backstory, and you can drop it anywhere you want. There is a prologue in John Steinbeck's Sweet Thursday, and it's OK because a character in the book makes the point of what my rules are all about.  He says, "I like a lot of talk in a book and I don't like to have nobody tell me what the guy's that talking looks like. I want to figure out what he looks like from the way he talks."

Roddy Doyle.  Do not place a photograph of your favorite author on your desk, especially if the author is one of the famous ones who committed suicide.

Anne Enright.  The first 12 years are the worst.

Neil Gaiman.  Remember: When people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

David Hare: Never go to a TV personality festival masquerading as a literary festival.

Richard Ford: Don't have children.

Now, get back to writing!