11/9/10

Andy Devine

a selection from Devine's "A Grammar for Fiction Writers"

Fiction writers are only fiction writers when they are writing fiction.

Every work of fiction can be improved.

Fiction writers must find a way to manage their incompetence if they are to continue writing fiction. The conception of the fiction is always greater than the execution of the fiction.

Create a fictional world that is elsewhere.

It doesn’t matter what happens in fiction. Meaning doesn’t matter in fiction. It doesn’t matter whether a particular character wins the race or not. Whether the dress is blue or green is inconsequential.

The order of the letters in the English alphabet is not an accident.

The great fiction writer is possessed by considerations that nobody else cares about.

There are certain words that should not be used in fiction.

Adjectives are not as bad as adverbs.

The first words that children learn are nouns, and, given that, there should be a high proportion of nouns, a certain thinginess, in fiction.

Only jackasses use whom.

There are no synonyms in fiction.

The reader knows that it is a fiction. Don’t let the reader think that it is a fiction.


These aphorisms are collected, with dozens of others, in Andy Devine's book Words. Devine is currently touring the US. Details are available here.

November 2010 marks four years of PGP, and Everyday Genius is marking the occasion all month by publishing work from its archives as well as IsReads, Chapbook Genius and excerpts from some of PGP's books.

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