Michael Moorcock’s 10 Rules for Writers

Michael Moorcock’s 10 Rules for Writers


Michael Moorcock is an English writer and musician. Although he is published mostly in science fiction and fantasy, he has also written literary novels. He was born 18 December 1939.

Moorcock became editor of the controversial British science fiction magazine New Worlds, where he championed the development of the experimental science fiction known as the ‘New Wave’ in the UK.

Moorcock has won many awards including the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel: Gloriana: Or, The Unfulfill’d Queen, the 2000 World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement, and the 2004 Bram Stoker Lifetime Achievement Award.

He is best known for his novels about the character, Elric of Melniboné, who has had an influence in fantasy writing since the 1960s and 1970s.

tMost of his fantasy and science fiction takes place “in the ‘Multiverse’, which is an infinity of parallel universes in which the Eternal Champion, a lone hero who takes many forms, battles against forces that wish to upset the balance between Law and Chaos.” (via)

His most dedicated fans are known as Moorcockians.

Michael Moorcock’s 10 Rules for Writers

  1. My first rule was given to me by TH White, author of The Sword in the Stone and other Arthurian fantasies and was: Read. Read everything you can lay hands on. I always advise people who want to write a fantasy or science fiction or romance to stop reading everything in those genres and start reading everything else from Bunyan to Byatt.
  2. Find an author you admire (mine was Conrad) and copy their plots and characters in order to tell your own story, just as people learn to draw and paint by copying the masters.
  3. Introduce your main characters and themes in the first third of your novel.
  4. If you are writing a plot-driven genre novel make sure all your major themes/plot elements are introduced in the first third, which you can call the introduction.
  5. Develop your themes and characters in your second third, the development.
  6. Resolve your themes, mysteries and so on in the final third, the resolution.
  7. 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.
  8. If possible have something going on while you have your characters delivering exposition or philosophising. This helps retain dramatic tension.
  9. Carrot and stick – have protagonists pursued (by an obsession or a villain) and pursuing (idea, object, person, mystery).
  10. Ignore all proferred rules and create your own, suitable for what you want to say.

Source for Rules / Source for image

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 by Amanda Patterson

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