Reading and Writing

What is it about books that make so many people think they’re easy to write? Or that if you learn the rules for writing, particularly fiction, then you’ll be capable of writing readable books? A query on a forum this morning asked for books that make clear the rules for chapter length, number of events in a chapter, etc. Someone else mentions that they’re about to finish a course on advanced novel writing. Another one asks whether they should go for a Master’s degree in order to gain discipline for writing.

Such questions are typical — too typical, and I suspect they’re asked mostly by people who don’t read much. When they’re told that they’ll learn more about writing from reading than from rule books or courses, they tend to react as if they’ve never considered doing anything that radical.

Is it the glut of fiction on the web that gives people the impression that it can just be churned out following a set of rules? Or the vapid advice that “Everybody has at least one book in them,” and its companion, “There’s nothing special about writing; anybody can do it?”

 

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