Nietzsche’s Ten Rules for Writers

5 April 2016 — 2 Comments

A post by By Kenechi Uzor

The philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900) is considered to be one of the greatest minds that ever lived. He was so revered during his life time that a student wrote to a friend after spotting Nietzsche on a train: “I just saw god on the 5 o’clock train.”

Along with the Bible, Nietzsche’s book, Thus Spoke Zarathustra (free eBook) was a standard issue for all German soldiers during World War 1.

Friedrich Nietzsche thought and wrote on practically everything. His ten rules of writing were written in letters to his unrequited love, Lou Andreas-Salomé.

  1. Of prime necessity is life: a style should live.
  2. Style should be suited to the specific person with whom you wish to communicate. (The law of mutual relation.)
  3. First, one must determine precisely “what-and-what do I wish to say and present,” before you may write. Writing must be mimicry.
  4. Since the writer lacks many of the speaker’s means, he must in general have for his model a very expressive kind of presentation of necessity, the written copy will appear much paler.
  5. The richness of life reveals itself through a richness of gestures. One must learn to feel everything — the length and retarding of sentences, inter-punctuations, the choice of words, the pausing, the sequence of arguments — like gestures.
  6. Be careful with periods! Only those people who also have long duration of breath while speaking are entitled to periods. With most people, the period is a matter of affectation.
  7. Style ought to prove that one believes in an idea; not only that one thinks it but also feels it.
  8. The more abstract a truth which one wishes to teach, the more one must first entice the senses.
  9. Strategy on the part of the good writer of prose consists of choosing his means for stepping close to poetry but never stepping into it.
  10. It is not good manners or clever to deprive one’s reader of the most obvious objections. It is very good manners and very clever to leave it to one’s reader alone to pronounce the ultimate quintessence of our wisdom.

Kenechi Uzor is the web editor of Saraba Magazine.  Saraba is currently accepting submissions for 2016. The theme for the magazine’s 19th issue will be “Power” and for its 20th issue the theme is “Money”. Submissions close on Sunday 15 May.

 


2 responses to Nietzsche’s Ten Rules for Writers

  1. F. Armstrong Green 8 April 2016 at 9:53 am

    These “rules” show once again how Nietzsche taken out of context and without interpretation makes little sense–exception for number 8.

  2. If speaking to someone who writes words AND speaks them , he gave true advice, ahead of his time.

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