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Showing posts from March, 2010

Trashing the Top 10 List of Advice for Writers

by Chris Stewart

I recently ran across an article in The Guardian, where authors were asked for their personal dos and don’ts. There was no indication of how or why certain writers were chosen and most of it is repetitious drivel, but let’s go through the first bunch and have some fun, and in my next post we’ll take on a sort of companion article in Salon, about readers’ advice to writers.

Here we go, starting off positive, with an open mind:

Big Yes! to Elmore Leonard’s rules about ‘said’ and adverbs. Been guilty of both transgressions myself. They just creep up on you and before you know it you are ‘gasping’ and ‘grumbling’ and ‘coaxing’ and, God Help Me, ‘trilling.’ Yes, I once used ‘trilling.’ You can’t hate me more than I hate myself for that one.

I love Diana Athill’s idea of looking at passages you love with ‘a very beady eye.’ She says to check which passages would be better dead.

Perfect lead in for a more updated version of Arthur Quiller-Couch’s ‘murder your darlings’ (it …