William Goldman’s 10 Commandments On Writing


Novelist and Academy Award-winning screenwriter, William Goldman (born 12 August 1931) has become a writing legend over a career spanning fifty years. His novels include Marathon Man, and The Princess Bride, both of which Goldman adapted for film.

He won two Academy Awards for the screenplays, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All the President’s Men. He also wrote two non-fiction books about his experiences in Hollywood, Adventures In The Screen Trade and Which Lie Did I Tell? 

He offers some useful, concise advice for writers. Life would be easier for editors, publishers, and readers if more writers followed these rules.

Here are his 10 Commandments On Writing:

  1. Thou shalt not take the crisis out of the protagonist’s hands.
  2. Thou shalt not make life easy for the protagonist.
  3. Thou shalt not give exposition for exposition’s sake.
  4. Thou shalt not use false mystery or cheap surprise.
  5. Thou shalt respect thy audience.
  6. Thou shalt know thy world as God knows this one.
  7. Thou shalt not complicate when complexity is better.
  8. Thou shalt seek the end of the line, taking characters to the farthest depth of the conflict imaginable within the story’s own realm of probability.
  9. Thou shalt not write on the nose — put a subtext under every text.
  10. Thou shalt rewrite.

From Adventures In The Screen Trade by William Goldman. (source)

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Amanda Patterson by Amanda Patterson

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