Rules of Writing

In a bid to improve my writing, I soak up tons of blog posts and articles online hoping that they contain tiny little nuggets of advice that will prove useful for me. Let’s be frank – not just prove useful, I hope they’ll transform my writing and turn me into a Booker-winning author. Perhaps that’s just a teeny bit too ambitious, but a girl can dream, right?

Websites like Brain Pickings, The Guardian, Aerogramme Writers Studio routinely run a series of these compilations of tips from various bestselling authors. I’ve amassed a whole collection of them!

First learn the rules then break them

Check the resources below and let me know your favourites!

Rules of Writing from 35 writers

Elmore Leonard’s advice to writers

George Orwell’s tips for Effective Writing

Joyce Carol Oates’ 10 tips on Writing

Jonathan Franzen’s 10 rules for writing fiction

PD James’ 5 bits of writing advice

Hilary Mantel’s Ten Rules for Writing Fiction

Michael Moorcock’s Ten Tips for Good Storytelling

John Steinbeck’s Writing Tips

Michael Morpurgo’s Rules for Writers

Sarah Waters’ Rules for Writers

Zadie Smith’s Ten Golden Rules for Writers

The tips in Roddy Doyles Rules for Writers make sound sense:

1 Do not place a photograph of your ­favourite author on your desk, especially if the author is one of the famous ones who committed suicide.

9 Do not search amazon.co.uk for the book you haven’t written yet.

I like this one the best for the utter simplicity of the rules:

Neil Gaiman’s Eight Rules of Writing

Do you have any tips or rules that you always follow? Which is your favourite set of rules? And who’s the writer whose tips have helped you the most?

My Writing

The Mantoux Test

A few years ago, a sudden health scare drove me to the hospital for a couple of medical tests like an MRI and another to detect for TB. All came back negative and nothing worrying, but it did spark a story idea for me.

If a man suspected his wife of cheating on man, who could he approach to help solve his troubles? In my story he consults a godman, who suggests a slightly unconventional approach to detecting the wife’s infidelity.

The story I wrote called ‘The Mantoux Test’ was accepted for publication last year in the Transmundane Press’ Transcendent anthology.

Transmundane Press’ Transcendent Anthology

Click here to read an excerpt!

This post tells the ‘story behind the story’.

And here’s my interview with The Transmundane Press.

Do let me know what you think of the excerpt! If you’ve published anything recently, feel free to drop a link in the comments below!


20 years of The Matrix

In the summer of ’99, I queued up with my then-boyfriend (now-husband) outside a movie theatre waiting to see an action movie, little knowing that it would be the action movie to define the genre for decades to come. I didn’t know or care much about the content – it featured Keanu Reeves. That was all I needed to know. I had developed a serious crush on him since I had seen him in Speed, though of course I hadn’t revealed that to my boyfriend at that time. (He knows now, though)

When we finally watched it, the first action sequence simply blew us away. We held on to our seats, eager for more. Even in the theatre with tattered barely-there seats, unhygienic but tasty samosas, I dawned on us that we were in for something special.

I understood the basic concept, but my sister and several of my friends understood little of it, and derived what pleasure and enjoyment of the movie from the continuous unfurling of action.

I am talking about The Matrix of course. Twenty years have passed since its release, which is astounding given how well it holds up even after recent viewing. I showed it to my eleven-year-old daughter the other day, and it shocked her that it was so old. She thought I was showing her a new movie.

I told her all the cultural impacts the movie had in addition to the effects on action movies. Every movie after the Matrix featured the same effects and they’re repeated until now.

The long black trench coats with sunglasses became a signature look of any show that wanted to look cool.

However, to properly understand the movie, I had to read the book Taking the Red Pill, which explained the Christian influences and the significance of each pivotal scene. I smacked my head – why hadn’t I thought of it before? The references should have jumped right out at me.

I remember watching it multiple times in the cinema hall. Unfortunately once I watched it with my mother, who is, to put it politely, not an action movie buff.

Dear reader, she laughed.

She laughed louder than she did when reading 101 Jokes for Kids. Her belly ached and trembled more than Santa Claus high on holiday spirits.

It was the most embarrassing experience I had ever been through. People around us were giving me nasty looks, probably wondering what the joke was, or where we could find the comedy.

Despite all the accolades, the next two movies that promised similar but better action sequences and storylines simply disappointed.

I loved Keanu Reeves in everything he did, but my sister just dismissed him as “Mr. Wood”, because of his lack of expressions while acting. It surprised me to know that he wasn’t the first choice of the directors or the studio, but got it only after everyone else rejected it. This included Will Smith who was then shooting for Wild Wild West (not sure if that’s supposed to be a pun), and we all know how well that went.

The Matrix is full of juicy one-liners and action sequences. To list my favourites would be to describe the entire movie, but Wired offers a pretty nifty rundown of the best scenes.

The Atlantic writes about how such an original movie would probably not even be made today.

The Matrix remains one of my favourite movies until now. If I ever find it playing, you bet I’m going to watch it.

If you’re from “The Matrix generation”, let me know your fondest scenes and memories of the movie!