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Writing Quote: The Rules of Writing

March 7, 2010

There have been a lot of posts on various writing blogs of late discussing the 10 Rules of writing.  It’s almost become a meme.  In light of that, I found this quote by a writer from the 1930s to be very interesting.  This popular and successful writer, who has had many of his books and stories adapted into film, suggests that, in fact, there are only 3 rules of writing.  Here’s what he has to say:

There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

~W. Somerset Maugham

Interesting.  Those are, I’m sure, rules to live by.

Actually, this quote gets to the heart of what I’ve been thinking about all the rules of writing lists.  Some of them sound like sound advice.  Some of the sound like bad advice.  Some simply aren’t relevant in certain areas or genres of writing.  It’s usually a good idea to heed the words of a published author if you wish to tread in those same footsteps.  But you also need to tread lightly and carefully, because the path that led another writer to success will not always lead again to the same destination.

Happy writing.

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