In this post, we share English author, Martin Amis’s 16 rules for writers.
Martin Amis (born 25 August 1949) is an English novelist and satirist known for his ‘virtuoso storytelling technique and his dark views of contemporary English society’. (via) Amis is the son of the novelist, Kingsley Amis.
Amis is also the author of several collections of essays, including The Moronic Inferno and Other Visits to America, and The War Against Cliché. His two collections of short stories are Einstein’s Monsters and Heavy Water and Other Stories.
Amis’s long friendship with fellow English author, Christopher Hitchens was well-documented and was ‘arguably the most prominent and productive literary relationship of his era’.
We found these rules for writers on Advice To Writers and wanted to share them with you.
Martin Amis’s 16 Rules For Writers
- Write in long-hand: when you scratch out a word, it still exists there on the page. On the computer, when you delete a word it disappears forever. This is important because usually your first instinct is the right one.
- Minimum number of words to write every day: no “quota”: Sometimes it will be no words. Sometimes it will be 1500.
- Use any anxiety you have about your writing — or your life — as fuel: “Ambition and anxiety: that’s the writer’s life.”
- Never say ‘sci-fi.’ You’ll enrage purists. Call it SF.
- Don’t dumb down: always write for your top five per cent of readers.
- Never pun your title, simpler is usually better: “Lolita turns out to be a great title; couldn’t be simpler.”
- At Manchester (University, where he teaches creative writing) my rule is I don’t look at their work. We read great books, and we talk about them … We look at Conrad, Dostoyevsky.
- When is an idea is worth pursuing in novel-form? “It’s got to give you a kind of glimmer.”
- Watch out for words that repeat too often.
- Don’t start a paragraph with the same word as previous one. That goes doubly for sentences.
- Stay in the tense.
- Inspect your ‘hads’ and see if you really need them.
- Never use ‘amongst.’Never use ‘whilst.’ Anyone who uses ‘whilst’ is subliterate.
- Try not to write sentences that absolutely anyone could write.
- You write the book you want to read. That’s my rule.
- You have to have a huge appetite for solitude.
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