Tuesday quote: the 3 rules for novel writing

English novelist and playwright William Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) once made this rather pithy remark about novel writing:

“There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

I have a pretty good idea what he was getting at. What do you think?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2012

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5 comments on “Tuesday quote: the 3 rules for novel writing

  1. I’m slogging through the revision of my first novel, but I can see exactly what he’s talking about. It’s like taming some sort of wild beast while trying to figure out what you want to train it to do at the same time.

  2. The worst of it is when you get a brilliant idea, while revising – which tips the balance of the book over, and back you have to go to re-write it from Chapter 1 again. I’ve been there…

  3. Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m going to be throwing some big chunks out of my novel, but fortunately I think the basic structure holds up fairly well, and I’m really excited about the new ideas that have been coming.

  4. I think they are the same rules used for herding cats!

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