New Post at The Night Bazaar: Writing Rules vs. Rules of Thumb

Hey! If you’re in the San Francisco area, come see me read with Richard Kadrey and Naamen Tilahun at Borderlands Books on Valencia Street tomorrow evening (Saturday 10/15/2011). It’s part of Litquake’s Litcrawl, the annual orgiastic celebration of the spoken word. You can find more details at my blog, or go to or Hope to see you there!

Writing Rules vs. Rules of Thumb

This week we’re talking about writing advice I hate. I hate a lot of it, if not most of it. I think writing advice is fine…in its place. But my view is that writing advice should be considered a “rule of thumb,” not a rule. When writing advice starts to look like “rules,” it too often shows the cognitive, social and creative shortcomings and prejudices of the person who came up with it.

Mind you, please don’t think I’m talking about the rules of grammar, composition, POV, etc, which I think if possible you should know like the back of your hand, and respect; however, you should also break them willy-nilly if that serves the Work. (See what I did there, with the capital “W”? That’s an example of messing with The Rules to make a point. There! I did it again!! Wasn’t that awesome? Doing it just because you’re pretentious is also allowed, but it will annoy the hell out of everyone around you, as I surely just did. But that’s their problem, right?)

Beyond those very limited rules of grammar and composition, I think advice that makes the jump from rules-of-thumb to rules-to-live-by is anathema to creativity. Every work of fiction is different, and it should all exist on its own terms.

Read the Rest of this post at


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