Jonathan Franzen’s 10 Rules For Writing Fiction

Jonathan Franzen’s 10 Rules For Writing Fiction


We share American novelist, Jonathan Franzen’s 10 rules for writing fiction.

Jonathan Franzen, born 17 August 1959, is an American novelist and essayist. His five novels include the titles Freedom and The Corrections. His five works of nonfiction and translation include The Kraus Project and Farther Away.

His books are described as ‘sprawling multilayered novels about contemporary America’.

His 2001 novel The Corrections, drew widespread critical acclaim. It earned Franzen a National Book Award, was a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction finalist, earned a James Tait Black Memorial Prize and was shortlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award. His 2010 novel Freedom was a similar success and this led to him appearing on the cover of Time magazine with the headline “Great American Novelist”.

He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the German Akademie der Künste, and the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

Jonathan Franzen’s 10 Rules For Writing Fiction

  1. The reader is a friend, not an adversary, not a spectator.
  2. Fiction that isn’t an author’s personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown isn’t worth writing for anything but money.
  3. Never use the word “then” as a ­conjunction – we have “and” for this purpose. Substituting “then” is the lazy or tone-deaf writer’s non-solution to the problem of too many “ands” on the page.
  4. Write in the third person unless a ­really distinctive first-person voice ­offers itself irresistibly.
  5. When information becomes free and universally accessible, voluminous research for a novel is devalued along with it.
  6. The most purely autobiographical ­fiction requires pure invention. Nobody ever wrote a more auto­biographical story than “The Meta­morphosis”.
  7. You see more sitting still than chasing after.
  8. It’s doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction.
  9. Interesting verbs are seldom very interesting.
  10. You have to love before you can be relentless.

Source for 10 Rules
Source for screenshot

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 by Amanda Patterson

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