Ten rules for writing fiction

The Guardian (Angleterre) a demandé à une trentaine d’auteurs, en majorité britanniques, quelles sont les dix choses à faire ou à éviter quand on veut se lancer dans l’écriture. J’ai recueilli les dos and don’ts qui m’ont semblé les plus amusants, ceux qui sont empreints d’humour ou qui sont des manifestations de tics d’auteur. Et, non, je ne les ai pas traduits. Les voilà:

  • Using adverbs is a mortal sin — Elmore Leonard
  • Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can’t sharpen it on the plane, because you can’t take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils.
  • Do back exercises. Pain is distracting. — Margaret Atwood
  • Do not place a photograph of your favourite author on your desk, especially if the author is one of the famous ones who committed suicide.
  • Do, occasionally, give in to temptation. Wash the kitchen floor, hang out the washing. It’s research.
  • Do spend a few minutes a day working on the cover biog – « He divides his time between Kabul and Tierra del Fuego. » But then get back to work. — Roddy Doyle
  • Never worry about the commercial possibilities of a project. That stuff is for agents and editors to fret over – or not. Conversation with my American publisher. Me: « I’m writing a book so boring, of such limited commercial appeal, that if you publish it, it will probably cost you your job. » Publisher: « That’s exactly what makes me want to stay in my job. » — Geoff Dyer
  • Imagine that you are dying. If you had a terminal disease would you ­finish this book? Why not? The thing that annoys this 10-weeks-to-live self is the thing that is wrong with the book. So change it. Stop arguing with yourself. Change it. See? Easy. And no one had to die.

    You can also do all that with whiskey. — Anne Enright

  • 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. — Jonathan Franzen
  • Cut out the metaphors and similes. In my first book I promised myself I wouldn’t use any and I slipped up during a sunset in chapter 11. I still blush when I come across it. —Esther Freud
  • Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. — Neil Gaiman
  • Remember writing doesn’t love you. It doesn’t care. Nevertheless, it can behave with remarkable generosity. Speak well of it, encourage others, pass it on. — AL Kennedy
  • If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient. — Hilary Mantel
  • Once a chapter is scribbled down rough – I write very small so I don’t have to turn the page and face the next empty one. —Michael Morpurgo
  • Lock different characters/elements in a room and tell them to get on. — Andrew Motion
  • My main rule is to say no to things like this, which tempt me away from my proper work. — Philip Pullman
  • Regard yourself as a small corporation of one. Take yourself off on team-building exercises (long walks). Hold a Christmas party every year at which you stand in the corner of your writing room, shouting very loudly to yourself while drinking a bottle of white wine. Then masturbate under the desk. The following day you will feel a deep and cohering sense of embarrassment. — Will Self
  • Turn up for work. Discipline allows creative freedom. No discipline equals no freedom. — Jeanette Winterson

Évidemment, il y avait aussi des conseils plus sérieux — quoique, à mon avis, les plus grandes vérités arrivent ainsi déguisées. Pour ceux que ça intéresse, vous trouverez l’article intégral ici.

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