How I Do It: Anne Rice on Writing Technique

How I Do It - Anne Rice on Writing Technique

Gothic novelist Anne Rice was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is the author of over 30 novels. Her first novel, Interview with the Vampire, was published in 1976 and has gone on to become one of the best-selling novels of all time.

      1. Rely heavily on concrete nouns and action verbs. Nothing conveys immediacy and excitement like the concrete noun and the action verb.
      2. Rely heavily on short sentences and even fragments. Long complex sentences, especially when filled with abstract nouns slow the reader and even confuse him or her. Break up these sentences. Or balance them with short ones.
      3. Don’t hesitate to write one sentence paragraphs and short paragraphs in general. Never, never bury a key revelation or surprise or important physical gesture by a character at the end of an existing paragraph. Move this to a new paragraph.
      4. Go easy on conjunctions such as “but,” “and,” “yet,” and “however.” The prose may feel fluid to you when you use these; but if you go back and simply remove them the prose may be even more fluid.
      5. Repeat a character’s name often in dialogue and in straight narrative. Don’t slip into “he” or “she” for long stretches because if you do many fast readers will find themselves having to go back to determine who is speaking or feeling or viewing the action. Punch the proper names.
      6. Be generous and loving with adjectives and adverbs. These words give specificity to the narrative; they make it vibrant.
      7. When you repeat yourself in a novel, acknowledge it, as in “Again, he found himself thinking, as he had so often before . . .”
      8. If the plot takes a highly improbable turn, acknowledge that through having the characters acknowledge it.
      9. In writing intense action scenes, avoid slipping into “ing” words. It may feel “immediate” to use these words, say in a sword fight, a physical brawl, or an intense confrontation, but if you stick with simple past tense, you will actually heighten the action.
      10. Remember that in writing a novel, you are crafting something that must be fully understood and experienced in one reading, yet stand up to innumerable readings in the future.
      11. Never underestimate the power of the two line break. You may not want a new chapter but you want to cut away from the scene. Make the two line break.
      12. Never get trapped into thinking that if you have a character open a door, he necessarily has to close it later on. You are creating a visual impression of a scene, and you don’t need to spotlight every gesture. And you can cut away from a scene in progress.
      13. Paragraphs again: they are the way you engineer the page for the reader. That’s why I say never hesitate to make one line paragraphs and short paragraphs. You’re punching action or an emotional moment when you set it off in a paragraph. And you want to make things easy for the reader. Long paragraphs always impose something of a burden. The eye longs for a break.
      14. Multiple point of view can be very energizing for a reader. The switch in point of view can be exciting. And multiple point of view gives you a chance to reveal the world in a way that single point of view cannot. Favorite multiple point of view novels for me are War and Peace and The Godfather.
      15. A single point of view throughout is the best opportunity a writer has to get a reader to fall in love with a hero or heroine. The limitations are obvious; you can’t go to “another part of the forest” to find out what’s happening. But you have immense power in single point of view to get into the thoughts and feelings of your champion.
      16. First Person single point of view can take the reader not only into deep love but deep antipathy. Great Expectations, David Copperfield and Lolita are shining examples.
      17. If you find yourself becoming bored, then do what you must do to make the novel exciting again for you. Never keep building a scene because you feel you must. Think of some other way to solve the problem that is goading you to write what you don’t enjoy.
      18. When you feel yourself getting tired, stop and read something that is energizing. The opening pages of Stephen King’s Firestarter always refresh me and send me back to the keyboard. So does reading any part of Norman Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song. So does reading The Godfather. So does reading a Hemingway short story.
      19. Keep going. Remember that you must finish the novel for it to have a chance in this world. You absolutely must complete it. And of course, as soon as I do I think of new things. I go back, refining, adding a little. And when I stop feeling the urge to do that, well, I know it’s really finished.
      20. If these “rules” or suggestions don’t work for you, by all means disregard them completely! You’re the boss when it comes to your writing.

     

    [Source: Anne Rice’s Official Facebook page]

     

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