I usually post/reblog these “writing commandments” by famous writers without commenting because, hey, whatever works for you. But here… “We who write in English are fortunate to have the richest and most versatile language in the world.” Really? A few months ago I read an article by a (French) linguist aiming to prove that English was too simplistic to convey the whole range of human experience by giving a few selected examples. So who’s right? Both statements are, of course, totally ridiculous. Each language carries with it its own vision of the world, of the community amongst which it’s grown, and its own blind spots. I’d expect P. D. James, whose An unsuitable Job for a Woman is still one of my favorite P.I. novels, to know better than to make such wild assumptions.
PD James: RULES FOR WRITING…
1 Increase your word power. Words are the raw material of our craft. The greater your vocabulary the more effective your writing. We who write in English are fortunate to have the richest and most versatile language in the world. Respect it.
2 Read widely and with discrimination. Bad writing is contagious.
3 Don’t just plan to write – write. It is only by writing, not dreaming about it, that we develop our own style.
4 Write what you need to write, not what is currently popular or what you think will sell.
5 Open your mind to new experiences, particularly to the study of other people. Nothing that happens to a writer – however happy, however tragic – is ever wasted.
Let me tell you about an amazing book. A book you absolutely have to read.
Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
You know those books that you start reading & suddenly it’s four hours later? You haven’t stopped for a bathroom break or even grabbed a glass of water?
Alif the Unseen is that kind of book.
I call these un-put-down-able books. They’re also books that, as you’re getting closer to the end, you find yourself conflicted: you want to know how it ends, what happens to these characters you’ve become so attached to, but at the same time you don’t want it to be over!
I’m not going to tell you much about Alif the Unseen; any product review could give you the gist. I fear too much would be given away in my attempt to describe this beautiful story.
I will tell you G. Willow Wilson perfectly weaves technology with history & mythology, creates characters that are flawed & nuanced & tells a story that quickly draws you in.
There aren’t a lot of books that I hold up as “THIS! YOU MUST READ THIS!”. Alif the Unseen is now one of them.
And this is where I brag/sell.
Go - marvel, buy, game…& have fun!