Rules for Writing Fiction

May 13, 2010 at 7:25 am (Planning, Structure, Thoughts on Writing) (, , , , , , )

I visited a blog called the Life and Laughs of me the other day and came across a post entitled, Rules for Writing Fiction.  It is well worth a read if for nothing else than to get you thinking about whether you have any rules you follow consistently when writing fiction.

Personally, I disagreed with rule 8 on this list.

8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

Personally I like being kept in suspense as a reader, as long as the revelation is worth the wait.

That said, number 6 – be a sadist – is an excellent rule.  Just because you feel connected to your protagonist and have spent so much time on them doesn’t mean you shouldn’t heap ruin and pain upon them. It makes for a far more interesting story.

So what are your rules for writing fiction?



  1. Dr. Tom Bibey said,

    Gee, there are rules? Dang.

    Dr. B

  2. AlexJ said,

    Rules? We don’t need no stinkin’ rules!

    I disagree with #8 as well. Damn, there would be no mystery genre if we did that!

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      Yeah, that would make it a lot harder to draw out a who-done-it.

  3. Joanne said,

    I’m not too keen on number 8 either. I enjoy reading stories that unfold as I make my way through the book. My own rules are varied, depending. But I have a few standards … Definitely each scene must move that story forward; Outline to a general extent, at the very least; Keep it real, no plot contrivances for the sake of plot movement.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      Very much agree with the no plot contrivances, though that said, I think everyone breaks it from time to time.

  4. Geoffrey Stokker said,

    I believe the rule is directly from a quote by Raymond Chandler, who was one of the greats in the mystery genre. One doesn’t have to have the clues or the solution flying like a flag, but the information should be there so that if the reader sits down and thinks about the whole thing he would be able to figure the mystery.

    An example would probably be in The Wheel of Time and the murder of Asmodean which took place in the fifth novel in 1993. The thirteenth book is coming out later this year and people are still debating who killed him. Robert Jordan has said that everything the readers need to know who killed Asmodean is right there in the scene.

    Personally I think Moridin did it.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I couldn’t get the whole wheel of time thing. By book six I just wanted the entire plot resolved. Still, some people have been waiting a long time and have enjoyed the suspense. Thanks for your comment.

  5. Jemi Fraser said,

    #6 totally cracked me up! I agree – it’s so much fun to drive the poor characters right up to the edge 🙂

  6. shylockbooks said,

    I agree with your disagreement on #8. When I read, I only want to know a tiny bit in the beginning, just enough to know what is going on at the time. I seem to write the same way as well because who wants their opening line of their opening chapter to be:

    “My name is(blank). I am fourteen years old and I live in New York City. I have brown hair and brown eyes and a dog named Sport.”

    It doesn’t make it interesting. OR…there are the books that tell you so many convoluted things that don’t make sense or have anything resembling a plot line, even when you get over 150 pages into it.

    Ahem…Another Faust…cough cough.

    Great blog!

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      Thanks for the comment and you’re right, you can definitely give too much information too quickly.

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