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The 10 Most Important Writing Rules

Is it possible to establish writing rules? And among these, what are the 10 most important?

In this article, I gathered 10 rules from 10 famous writers to help us become better writers.

Writing Rule #1: Be yourself – Kurt Vonnegut

You should sound like yourself; you should sound like your country, your culture.

Kurt Vonnegut

Each of us carries a unique baggage of experiences, perspectives, and voices that stem from our cultural and personal backgrounds.

As writers, we must draw from this uniqueness. Readers love authenticity and are drawn to stories that reflect personal experiences in different cultural contexts.

Vonnegut thus encourages us not to conform to clichés, but to dig deep into our roots, expressing what makes us unique. In this way, writing becomes an exploration of ourselves and the cultural context in which we live.

Writing Rule #2: Don’t use adverbs – Stephen King

While to write adverbs is human, to write ‘he said’ or ‘she said’ is divine.

Stephen King

King believes that adverbs tend to weaken the narrative rather than strengthen it. He argues that the frequent use of adverbs indicates a writer’s inability to communicate intentions or emotions.

King advises us to rely on the strength of the dialogue and the description of characters’ actions rather than relying on adverbs to convey how something is said.

For example, in a scene where a girl leaves a room after discovering her boyfriend’s betrayal, conveying her anger with “she slammed the door” is much more effective than “she left angrily“.

Writing Rule #3: Writing is hard – Margaret Atwood

Writing is work. It’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan.

Margaret Atwood

This advice may be unpleasant, but it’s true. Writing is both hard work and a gamble, lacking guarantees and safety nets. Unlike traditional careers, writing does not provide a pension plan.

Writing requires creativity, talent, commitment, and resilience. Success is unpredictable, and rejection and financial instability are common.

Atwood reminds us that achieving recognition and making a living through writing is complex and requires patience, perseverance, and a willingness to face the odds without the promise of reward.

Writing Rule #4: Write the book you want to read – Toni Morrison

If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.

Toni Morrison

Morrison encourages writers to explore themes, characters, and ideas that are personally meaningful to them, resulting in literature that feels genuine and impactful.

When we are passionate about the stories we’re telling, our authenticity shines through in our writing. By tapping into our desires and interests as readers, we can craft narratives that engage and entertain while provoking thought and emotion.

Morrison’s advice reminds us that the best stories come from a place of passion and authenticity, reflecting our unique perspective and vision.

Writing Rule #5: Practice a lot – Ray Bradbury

Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.

Ray Bradbury

Among the writing rules of this article, this is the most encouraging! Bradbury believes that engaging in regular writing exercises makes it impossible to produce a continuous stream of poor work.

This emphasis on quantity over quality encourages writers to push past their creative boundaries and explore different styles, themes, and techniques. Through this disciplined approach, we can overcome creative blocks, develop our unique voices, and improve as storytellers.

With each short story written, we can experiment with character development, plot structure, and narrative voice, gradually refining our craft.

Writing Rule #6: Let your imagination guide – Ursula K. Le Guin

The creative adult is the child who has survived.

Ursula K. Le Guin

Le Guin believes there is a link between the sense of wonder we possess as children and the creative output we are capable of as adults. So, we must preserve and nurture that childlike curiosity and boundless imagination that many of us tend to lose as we grow older.

We must allow ourselves to explore ideas without the constraints of practicality or the fear of judgment, much like a child immerses themselves in play.

We can infuse our stories with a unique vibrancy only by viewing the world with awe and finding magic in everyday moments.

Writing Rule #7: Be sincere – Ernest Hemingway

Write one true sentence, write the truest sentence that you know.

Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway suggests that a powerful story is grounded in a personal and undeniable truth. By expressing this truth, the author establishes a solid foundation from which the entire narrative can flow.

Simplicity and honesty are key to strong and engaging writing. When we write with sincerity, we connect with readers on a deeper level, evoking genuine emotions and fostering empathy.

Hemingway’s advice reminds us to strip away pretense and artifice, allowing our writing to resonate with honesty and authenticity.

Writing Rule – #8: Finish what you start – Neil Gaiman

Whatever it takes to finish things, finish. You will learn more from a glorious failure than you ever will from something you never finished.

Neil Gaiman

Gaiman’s advice is both simple and profound. It reminds us of the value of completing any work, regardless of its success or failure.

This perspective prioritizes the process over the outcome. It emphasizes that finishing is a vital part of the creative journey. Through completion, we gain closure and the opportunity to reflect on our work, identifying strengths to build upon and weaknesses to address in future projects.

By finishing our projects, even in the face of potential failure, we cultivate resilience and experience the entire arc of creation. These experiences provide invaluable lessons that unfinished projects could never teach.

Writing Rule #9: Seek brevity – George Orwell

If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

George Orwell

Orwell’s advice teaches us the importance of clarity and precision in writing. It encourages us to carefully consider every word we choose, eliminating any superfluous elements that do not add significant value to the text.

Effective writing should be direct and to the point, without unnecessary embellishments that could distract the reader or obscure the intended message.

In the writing process, less is often more. Removing excess words can make a text more powerful, impactful, and accessible to the audience.

Writing Rule #10: Maintain momentum – Haruki Murakami

I stop every day right at the point where I feel I can write more.

Haruki Murakami

Murakami suggests we stop each writing session when we still have more to say, ensuring we always have something to look forward to the next day.

This helps us prevent burnout and maintain a steady momentum in our work. By stopping at a point of excitement rather than exhaustion, we keep our creative energy flowing and maintain our interest in the project.

This technique shows the importance of self-regulation and strategic use of energy for long-term productivity and creativity.

bibisco, a writing software crafted for authors

bibisco novel writing software offers great help to writers in writing their stories. Since the first version in April 2014, bibisco has collected and integrated the ideas and suggestions of its large community of writers.

Today, writers of all levels benefit from bibisco’s comprehensive toolkit for writers specifically designed to address common challenges in the writing process, such as character development, plot structuring, and story organization.

The 10 Most Important Writing Rules: bibisco novel writing software
bibisco novel writing software: chapters organization tools

By utilizing bibisco, writers can effectively streamline their writing process, following the 10 most important writing rules described in this article. The software’s intuitive interface and user-friendly design make it easy for writers to navigate through their projects and keep their thoughts organized.

With bibisco, you can focus on what truly matters – writing your story.

Conclusion: the 10 most important writing rules

Writing is a beautiful and, at the same time, very difficult experience.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for success, the writing rules shared by these ten great authors offer invaluable guidance and inspiration. Their collective wisdom encourages us to write with passion, sincerity, and purpose, embracing authenticity and nurturing curiosity.

So, let’s embrace the challenges, celebrate the victories, and continue to write the stories that only we can tell.

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4 Responses

  1. Excellent thoughts. I think, though, you left out one of my favorites: Mark Twain. had his own 18 rules for writers.

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