I thought it would be fun to compile a list of lists of rules for writing fiction. We can, of course, start with Elmore Leonard’s famous list. Many people disagree with some of his rules, but it won’t hurt to read them carefully and make up your own mind. What do you like as a reader? Maybe some of the things he’s against, you like to see when you’re reading. Nothing wrong, in my opinion, in breaking some of his rules, or any others in the rest of the lists below. In case you’ve never seen Mr. Leonard’s, here’s a link.
Of course, Mr. Hemingway had a set of rules. See all seven here:
Here are six from George Orwell, compiled using one of his essays on writing:
And then there is the famous Lester Dent formula, a master plot, for any 6000 word pulp story. This is not a list, but no list(!) would be complete without looking at Mr. Dent’s formula. If you spread it out, it will work for any story, short or long:
Final rule from Jan Christensen:
Trust yourself. Yes, learn the craft, read and ponder the rules. Read a lot of fiction. After you do that, you can trust yourself to know what works for you and your work.
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