Writing rules. Rules, rules, rules, and more rules. Lord, help me.
I have to tell you. Me and the NYTimes do not get along. In fact, me and most mainstream media do not get along. But as a writer in various capacities (for business, about business, children, memoir, and fiction) it is imperative I read widely for reasons you can well imagine.
So it was with a little bit of interest I saw a NYTimes headline that read “John Grisham’s Do’s and Don’ts for Writing Popular Fiction.” When I saw who wrote the article, I thought to myself, “Please, oh, please, do not let it be a stupid list rehashing the same old boring methods.”
O. M. G. John Grisham wrote a boring article that ill-serves the writer. Of the eight recommendations made, he could’ve not included the first three and been the better for it. If he had only deployed his Rule #7, then his article would’ve been much better.
His first three rules are:
1: Write a page every day. (How last century.)
2: Write in the same place and at the same time. (Sure, if you have nothing else to do.)
3: Do not write the opening scene until you know the last. (Why?)
If I wrote like that, I’d never get anything down on paper. Furthermore, my stories would be boring. When I let my characters have free reign, they come up with stuff I could never have imagined as I outlined the damn story.
Look. Maybe this works for a procedural such as Grisham writes. Maybe… But I can only imagine if John let his characters do their thing that his books would not be so predictable. There’s a reason I haven’t bought any of his books — even on the discount shelf at the book store — in years. I know what his characters will say. I know what they will do.
There are no surprises here. Nothing to see. Move along, folks.
And that’s such a sad thing to say about the guy.