The Guardian had a second part of the article “10 Rules for Writing Fiction.” As in the first article, they have over 100. I, however, have limited myself to quoting only 10.

Hilary Mantel: “First paragraphs can often be struck out. Are you performing a haka, or just shuffling your feet?”

Michael Moorcock: “Carrot and stick – have protagonists pursued (by an obsession or a villain) and pursuing (idea, object, person, mystery).”

Michael Morpurgo: “The prerequisite for me is to keep my well of ideas full. This means living as full and varied a life as possible, to have my antennae out all the time.”

Joyce Carol Oates: “Keep a light, hopeful heart. But ­expect the worst.”

Annie Proulx: “Write slowly and by hand only about subjects that interest you.” I really wanted to copy two of hers, but I didn’t. 

Ian Rankin: “Read lots.”

Will Self: “Always carry a notebook. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea for ever.”

Rose Tremain: “Forget the boring old dictum “write about what you know”. Instead, seek out an unknown yet knowable area of experience that’s going to enhance your understanding of the world and write about that.”

Sarah Waters: “Don’t panic. Midway through writing a novel, I have regularly experienced moments of bowel-curdling terror, as I contemplate the drivel on the screen before me and see beyond it, in quick succession, the derisive reviews, the friends’ embarrassment, the failing career, the dwindling income, the repossessed house, the divorce . . . Working doggedly on through crises like these, however, has always got me there in the end. Leaving the desk for a while can help. Talking the problem through can help me recall what I was trying to achieve before I got stuck. Going for a long walk almost always gets me thinking about my manuscript in a slightly new way. And if all else fails, there’s prayer. St Francis de Sales, the patron saint of writers, has often helped me out in a crisis. If you want to spread your net more widely, you could try appealing to Calliope, the muse of epic poetry, too.”

Jeannette Winterson: “Never stop when you are stuck. You may not be able to solve the problem, but turn aside and write something else. Do not stop altogether.”

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