Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

#WritingTips Mondays: Jonathan Franzen - "The Reader is Not a Spectator"

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Jonathan Franzen

In 2010, England's The Guardian newspaper asked some of the most acclaimed writers in the world to offer their top ten writing tips, inspired by Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing (William Morrow).

To get you inspired and writing each week, we'll be reposting some of our favourites for our #WritingTips Mondays, and today we bring you American Lit superstar Jonathan Franzen's top tips.

Writing tips from Jonathan Franzen via The Guardian:

  1. The reader is a friend, not an adversary, not a spectator.
  2. Fiction that isn't an author's personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown isn't worth writing for anything but money.
  3. Never use the word "then" as a ­conjunction — we have "and" for this purpose. Substituting "then" is the lazy or tone-deaf writer's non-solution to the problem of too many "ands" on the page.
  4. Write in the third person unless a ­really distinctive first-person voice ­offers itself irresistibly.
  5. When information becomes free and universally accessible, voluminous research for a novel is devalued along with it.
  6. The most purely autobiographical ­fiction requires pure invention. Nobody ever wrote a more auto­biographical story than "The Meta­morphosis".
  7. You see more sitting still than chasing after.
  8. It's doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction.
  9. Interesting verbs are seldom very interesting.
  10. You have to love before you can be relentless.

See more great writing tips at The Guardian website.

Related item from our archives

JF Robitaille: Minor Dedications


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