Braak’s Rules for Writing
Some time ago, the Guardian, in celebration of something or other, asked a bunch of writers what their ten rules for writing were. This inspired me to write my own.
Incidentally, one of Jonathan Franzen’s rules is “It’s doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction.” So, fuck you very much, Jonathan Franzen.
These rules are better than his.
Put those fuckers in everywhere. Here’s why: one day, a copy-editor is going to read your book, and copy-editors are never happy unless they feel like they’re better than you. Hunting down commas gives them something to do.
2. More words
There’s a million words in the English language; you should consider your life a failure if you haven’t used every single one of them before you die. If you can describe something with more words instead of fewer, do it. Because fewer words is boring. You know who used fewer words? Hemmingway. And what happened to him? He died. OF BORING.
This comes under the aforementioned; use some fucking adverbs. There should be at least twenty adverbs on every page. If someone reads your book and then tells you that you shouldn’t have so many adverbs, immediately go back AND PUT IN MORE ADVERBS.
4. The semicolon
The semicolon is fucking awesome. Use it whenever possible. The only reason people don’t like semicolons is because Kurt Vonnegut was talking shit on them, and what happened to him? He also died, probably from not using enough semicolons.
Fuck Kurt Vonnegut; use semicolons.
Research is for people without imagination.
6. Real things are real; so are fake things.
Every inch of every thing you’ve ever seen has been the subject of someone’s thought. It has a name. It is, when looked at from a particular angle, the culmination of 15 billion years of history, the center of an incalculable vastness. The same is true for the shit you make up.
7. Don’t be boring.
If you’re bored writing it, the rest of us will be bored reading it.
8. Four Things
There are four ways to not be boring: be funny, be empathetic, be smart, be pretty. It doesn’t actually matter what you say after that.
9. No One Cares
Seriously, who gives a shit what Jonathan Franzen thinks? Do what you want. This is life; if you’re not doing what you like (writing), you should give up and do something that you DO like (chef).
The only actual rule is this: no great writer became great by following someone else’s rules. Rules are for suckers. Invent the form.