Ten Commandments for the …

Ten Commandments for the Novelist

1. Thou shalt not write with one ear to the cash register, for the clink of coin may deafen thee to the rhythm of thine own prose.

2. Thou shalt not have contempt for thy readers. They may yet write rings around thee.

3. Neither shalt thou befuddle them with obfuscations thou understandeth not thyself.

4. Thou shalt not covet the success of thy neighbours: neither style, nor plots nor characterisations, nor royalties.

5. Honour thy language and write earnestly. Master the tools of thy trade and be as good a joiner in words as a master carpenter is in wood.

6. Be not hasty after the plaudits of the multitude, for they will pursue thee in thy measure and worth, and though they come not quickest to those that are lacking in greed, yet they stay the longest.

7. Despise not those masters who came before thee, and neither do thou worship them blindly.

8. Thou shalt not pose nor regard thyself as anointed, for the seeds of talent are as the sands on the seashore and ten thousand may spring into bloom and expose thee for a weed.

9. Thou shalt not look away from life about thee, for in it lie thy roots and thy nourishment.

10. Write from the depths of thy soul and men (sic) will know thee from its quality.

Adapted from Louis Zara and quoted from – Birmingham, Frederic S. The Writers Craft Arthur Barker Ltd, London: 1959.

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