V. S. Naipaul (born 17 August 1932, died 11 August 2018) was a Trinidadian-British writer of Indo-Trinidadian heritage. He was best known for his novels focusing on the legacy of the British Empire’s colonialism.
His comic early novels were set in Trinidad and Tobago and his serious later novels were set around the world, including in India, Africa, the Islamic world, and South and North America. He also wrote autobiographical chronicles of his life and travels.
V.S. Naipaul drew up this list for beginner writers at the request of the Indian news magazine Tehelka.
V.S. Naipaul’s 7 Rules For Beginner Writers
- Do not write long sentences. A sentence should not have more than ten or twelve words.
- Each sentence should make a clear statement. It should add to the statement that went before. A good paragraph is a series of clear, linked statements.
- Do not use big words. If your computer tells you that your average word is more than five letters long, there is something wrong. The use of small words compels you to think about what you are writing. Even difficult ideas can be broken down into small words.
- Never use words whose meaning you are not sure of. If you break this rule you should look for other work.
- The beginner should avoid using adjectives, except those of colour, size and number. Use as few adverbs as possible.
- Avoid the abstract. Always go for the concrete.
- Every day, for six months at least, practice writing in this way. Small words; short, clear, concrete sentences. It may be awkward, but it’s training you in the use of language. It may even be getting rid of the bad language habits you picked up at the university. You may go beyond these rules after you have thoroughly understood and mastered them.
If you enjoyed this, you will love:
- Dennis Lehane’s 10 Rules For Writers
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- Joyce Carol Oates’ 7 Rules For Writing
- Writing Advice From The World’s Most Famous Authors
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