NYT Rules on Writing


So the NYT published a How To Write article recently. There are 11 rules:

  1. Show and Tell.
  2. Don’t go searching for a subject, let your subject find you.
  3. Write what you know.
  4. Never use three words when one will do. Be concise.
  5. Keep a dream diary.
  6. What isn’t said is as important as what is said.
  7. Writer’s block is a tool — use it.
  8. Is secret.
  9. Have adventures.
  10. Revise, revise, revise.
  11. There are no rules.

I especially love rule number 8. Also, rule number 11. The rules are secret and there are no rules. LOL

I have heard of most of these before. Show and Tell is a classic. Be Concise is a classic, too. Revise, Revise, Revise is also an often repeated bit of advice.

Write What You Know is less often repeated, but when it is, people usually add good research will let you know everything you need to know. But the writer seems to be talking about emotional truths instead of factual, which is always good to have.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard of Have Adventures before. And I don’t think I’ve heard of Don’t Go Searching For A Subject before, either. That’s like saying you need to wait for the muse to show up, but I’ve heard the opposite more often. That you should write anyway and sooner or later you will have a subject, and the muse will show up. The muse is trainable.




4 thoughts on “NYT Rules on Writing

  1. On the whole these are good rules, and even though show and tell is a classic I am amazed at how many writers still tell rather than show this diminishes the impact of what they are writing and can make it lean to the boring side.

    Revise revise is another good one, , that old edit stage cannot be missed if you want your work to be as polished as possible.

    I can’t say that don’t go searching for a subject, is one I agree with, very often I’ll look for a writing prompt to get me going. I love what isn’t said is as important as what is, I find sometimes writers say too much and don’t leave the readers imagination to go to work.

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