Sol Stein's 10 Commandments for Writers

Sol "Stein on Writing" I thought some of you who haven't seen it might like his ten commandments for writers:

1. Thou shalt not sprinkle characters with a preconceived plot lest thou produce hackwork. In the beginning was the character, then the word, and from the character's words is brought forth action.
2. Thou shalt imbue thy heroes with faults and thy villains with charm, for it is the faults of the hero that bring forth his life, just as the charm of the villain is the honey with which he lures the innocent.
3, Thy characters shall steal, kill, dishonor their parents, bear false witness, and covet their neighbor's house, wife, manservant, maidservant, ox, and ass, for reader's crave such actions and yawn when thy characters are meek, innocent, forgiving and peaceable.
4. Thou shalt not saw the air with abstractions, for readers, like lovers, are attracted by particularity.
5. Thou shalt not mutter, whisper, blurt, bellow, or scream, for it is the words and not the characterization of the words that must carry their own decibels.
6. Thou shalt infect thy reader with anxiety, stress, and tension, for those conditions that he deplores in life he relishes in fiction.
7. Thy language shall be precise, clear, and bear the wings of angels, for anything less is the province of businessmen and academics and not of writers.
8. Thou shalt have no rest on the Sabbath, for thy characters shall live in thy mind and memory now and forever.
9. Thou shalt not forget that dialogue is as a foreign tongue, a semblance of speech and not a record of it, a language in which directness diminishes and obliqueness sings.
10. Above all, thou shall not vent thy emotions onto the reader, for thy duty is to evoke the reader's emotions, and in that most of all lies the art of the writer... Sol Stein

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13 comments:

mary beth said...

I've never seen this before! It's wonderful. I especially love 10.

Anonymous said...

This was great, Mar! You always have the good stuff!

JoAnn

Trish Milburn said...

Interesting list. I hadn't seen it before. Glad to see the stupid spammers haven't shown up here like they have mine. What did I do to attract these people?

Jill said...

Nice pic!!!!!

kacey said...

Those are great!

(and I've been meaning to ask. How come the commenter's name doesn't show up with her comment on the main page. You have to go to post a commemnt to see who is saying what? Or is this just on my computer??)

MaryF said...

Glad y'all enjoy. Trish, I saw you got spammed a ton yesterday! I wonder why?

Kacey, I can't figure out how to make the commenters names appear. I've tried a couple of times.

Michelle said...

I love this list. Wonderful! Thank you for sharing.

Dixie Belle said...

The photo was great! Also the post was very good. Enjoyed it alot.

Michele said...

Uh, Mary? Where did that photo of Gerry come from? It's really, really, really good.

MaryF said...

Michele, I don't remember where the picture came from, but it looks like Reign of Fire.

Michele said...

I thought so too, Mary. But I'm beginning to think: does that man ever look bad? No.

MaryF said...

Welllll, I've seen some pictures that aren't as flattering...but you won't see them here!

Michele said...

Maybe the pictures aren't taken in a flattering way but Gerry.... not flattering? I don't think so.

Of course all he has to do is smile and talk and I'm..... (sigh)

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