Will’s rules

I’m all for blogging without actually doing any work myself. When I read the writers’ rules thing in the Guardian at the weekend, I did consider blogging about it, but decided everyone would have read them already. And maybe it’s stupid to write about how to write, and no better to write a blog about writing about…

But, Meg Rosoff has had her say, and Mary Hoffman, likewise. And since I have no need for rules (tell me you had noticed) on account of not writing books, I don’t need to worry. I liked Philip Pullman’s ‘rule’ the best.

Since today’s blog post would look a wee bit short if I were to stop here, I will now simply copy and paste in Mr Shakespeare’s rules, courtesy of Declan Burke. I suspect nobody thought to ask old Will directly. But it made me smile at least a little bit.

“1. Write ye not a new tale if’t can at all be helped. Plunder thou yon histories, myths and pre-Renaissance Italian romances for plot, setting, character, structure, style and theme. If anyone notice, claim ye homage.

2. Makest thou heroine a maiden as young as is strictly legal.

3. Lest there be doubt on who be your varlet, give him a hump. Or a hooked nose. Or black skin. If ye can manage all three in one villain, have on.

4. A good title be half the battle. ‘Big Fuss About Nowt’ flyeth not.

5. A pox on reality. Toss ye in some ghost, fairy, witch and monster for good jizz. If ye can handle a haunted kitchen sink, have on.

6. If ye suffer from block, have your mistress take up the quill while you cane opium and give her daughter goodly tup. If ye be nabbed, claim research.

7. Ne’er miss a chance for identity mistook, for such wrangling be good for fifty page or more. If they be cross-dressers, ye’ll get a whole tale.

8. Prithee, no more than one monologue per page. Unless folio pages they be. But e’en then, no more than three, max.

9. If the pace should flag, lobbest thou in a ‘Gadsooks!’ or ‘Forsooth!’ Or have skewered a king, general, politician or prince. For the money shot, go with ‘Gadsooks, I be skewered, forsooth!’ The plebs love’t.

10. Once in while end your line with a rhyme / ’Tis posh as a turret and waste some more time.”

I do like Irish cowboys with a good turn of phrase. Thanks for letting me borrow this, Declan. Not that I asked, but anyway.

11 responses to “Will’s rules

  1. Well, this solves the mystery of who really wrote Shakespeare’s plays. Fantastic, Declan, and thanks for reprinting, witch.

  2. What bliss, this. Off to cane some chilli oil…

  3. Noo, you know what you get like when you do!

  4. Wonderful stuff….thanks Bookwitch.

  5. Oh, finally! Some rules that make goodlie sense. Made me laugh and cheered me up greatly on a not-so-good day. (Gadzooks, I wille skewer thatte paine draconis if itte killeth mee) PS: Mary Hoffman is MUCH better at this olde lingo thing that me–but she’s had practice with nice Doctor Dethridge from Stravaganza.

  6. Made me laugh SO MUCH! Brilliant – really needed that, am still laughing actually…..think people are going to think I’m mad every time i think Once in while end your line with a rhyme / ’Tis posh as a turret and waste some more time’. I shall be tittering again….

  7. Love it. (I’ve already done the first three in the new book… )

    I just went on to the Shakespearean Curse Generator – great fun, if you’ve not already tried it – and guess what the Curse of the Moment was? Really and truly.

    ‘Thou mewling earth-vexing leprous witch!’

    Gadzooks. How spooky is that? It’s not me saying it, (before you hurl a curse Northwards, bookwitch) it’s the automatic Shakespearean Curse Generator. Oft-used hereabouts, forsooth.

  8. Hurling major curse already.

    Please don’t all desert me for Crime Always Pays now!

  9. Love this – just about to pin it above my desk, for Gadsooks – humour doth aid an ailing pen.

  10. It doesn´t happen often, but I really did laugh out loud when reading Declan´s pieces of advice – especially after having read Elmore Leonard´s.

  11. I read it and thought it was funny. Then after a while I thought that maybe it hadn’t been that funny after all. But another read, and another, assured me it was still funny.

    Though as someone pointed out on CAP, no. 2 should be thy and not thou. I think.

    Never mind.

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