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So, How's That Novel Coming Along?

by John Asante
Mar 2, 2010

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John Asante

All you fiction writers out there — listen up! If you're struggling with completing "that novel you've been working on," here's something that might help you out with that writers block. Or at least make you laugh a bit.

During my nightly news gathering expedition last night (which is evident of what I posted yesterday on the Pew Center's latest study), I stumbled upon this nifty "Ten Rules for Writing Fiction" in The Guardian's book section. The list was insipred by Elmore Leonard's new book 10 Rules of Writing. Nearly 30 additional authors — from playwright David Hare to novelist Zadie Smith — share their snarky, but useful advice on verb choice, beginnings, and "not overdoing it" as well. Here's a suggestion, courtesy of Leonard:

Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue. The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But "said" is far less intrusive than "grumbled", "gasped", "cautioned", "lied". I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with "she asseverated" and had to stop reading and go to the dictionary.

If this tickles your fancy — or you have a friend like Stewie Griffin on Family Guy who won't let you live down your project that you put on the backburner — check out the rest of the tips here and here.

Good luck!

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