by Anne R. Allen
Somerset Maugham famously said, “There are three rules for writing. Unfortunately, nobody knows what they are.”
But pretty much everybody you meet in the publishing business will give you a list of them. (One is “never start a sentence with ‘there are’” —so watch yourself, Mr. Maugham.)
Some of the rules show up in any standard writing book or class, but others only seem to get circulated in critique groups, conference workshops, and forums.
They’re a secret to everybody else.
But you’ll run into them sooner or later. In a forum or workshop, somebody will tell you with schoolmarmish assurance that you MUST follow these secret writing rules to be a successful novelist.
Nobody knows exactly where these rules come from, or why so many great books have become classics without following a single one.
Don’t get me wrong: many “secret writing rules” involve useful tips…
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