Helen Dunmore's 9 Rules For Writing Fiction

Helen Dunmore’s 9 Rules For Writing Fiction


Helen Dunmore was a British poet, novelist, and short story and children’s writer. She was born on the 12th of December 1952 and died on the 5th of June 2017.

Helen Dunmore was the author of fourteen novels and 10 poetry collections. She won the Society of Authors’ McKitterick Prize for her first novel, Zennor In Darkness, and the Orange Prize for Fiction for A Spell of Winter, and various prizes for her poetry.

Helen Dunmore was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Helen Dunmore’s 9 Rules For Writing Fiction

  1. Finish the day’s writing when you still want to continue.
  2. Listen to what you have written. A dud rhythm in a passage of dialogue may show that you don’t yet understand the characters well enough to write in their voices.
  3. Read Keats’s letters.
  4. Reread, rewrite, reread, rewrite. If it still doesn’t work, throw it away. It’s a nice feeling, and you don’t want to be cluttered with the corpses of poems and stories which have everything in them except the life they need.
  5. Learn poems by heart.
  6. Join professional organisations which advance the collective rights of authors.
  7. A problem with a piece of writing often clarifies itself if you go for a long walk.
  8. If you fear that taking care of your children and household will damage your writing, think of JG Ballard.
  9. Don’t worry about posterity – as Larkin (no sentimentalist) observed ‘What will survive of us is love’.

Source for Advice

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 by Amanda Patterson

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