It seems that people are still interested in writing, and in what writers have to say about it. Inspired by the British paperback publication of Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing, the Guardian newspaper asked a selection of fiction writers for their rules, and got a surprisingly wide range of responses. The answers, now appearing on the Guardian website, have gone viral, sparking thousands of viewers in a few days. Below is a small sampling, with varying degrees of seriousness.
Margaret Atwood Take a pencil to write with on airplanes. 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.
Roddy Doyle Do keep a thesaurus, but in the shed at the back of the garden or behind the fridge, somewhere that demands travel or effort. Chances are the words that come into your head will do fine, e.g. "horse", "ran", "said".
Helen Dunmore If you fear that taking care of your children and household will damage your writing, think of J.G. Ballard.
Geoff Dyer Don't be one of those writers who sentence themselves to a lifetime of sucking up to Nabokov.
Anne Enright 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.
Richard Ford Marry somebody you love and who thinks you being a writer's a good idea.
Jonathan Franzen It's doubtful that anyone with an Internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction.
Esther Freud 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.
Neil Gaiman Finish what you're writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.
David Hare Jokes are like hands and feet for a painter. They may not be what you want to end up doing but you have to master them in the meanwhile.
P.D. James Read widely and with discrimination. Bad writing is contagious.
A.L. Kennedy: Write. No amount of self-inflicted misery, altered states, black pullovers or being publicly obnoxious will ever add up to your being a writer. Writers write. On you go.
Hilary Mantel Are you serious about this? Then get an accountant.
Michael Moorcock For a good melodrama study the famous " Lester Dent master plot formula" which you can find online. It was written to show how to write a short story for the pulps, but can be adapted successfully for most stories of any length or genre.
Joyce Carol Oates Unless you are writing something very avant-garde - all gnarled, snarled and "obscure" - be alert for possibilities of paragraphing.
Philip Pullman My main rule is to say no to things like this, which tempt me away from my proper work.