Welcome to Moorcock's Miscellany

Dear reader,

Many people have given their valuable time to create a website for the pleasure of posing questions to Michael Moorcock, meeting people from around the world, and mining the site for information. Please follow one of the links above to learn more about the site.

Thank you,
Reinart der Fuchs
See more
See less

Michael Moorcock's rules for writing fiction

This is a sticky topic.
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Michael Moorcock's rules for writing fiction

    There's an interesting article on the Guardian website where various authors provide a list of rules for writing fiction. Here's a list from someone we all know:
    Michael Moorcock

    1 My first rule was given to me by TH White, author of The Sword in the Stone and other Arthurian fantasies and was: Read. Read everything you can lay hands on. I always advise people who want to write a fantasy or science fiction or romance to stop reading everything in those genres and start reading everything else from Bunyan to Byatt.

    2 Find an author you admire (mine was Conrad) and copy their plots and characters in order to tell your own story, just as people learn to draw and paint by copying the masters.

    3 Introduce your main characters and themes in the first third of your novel.

    4 If you are writing a plot-driven genre novel make sure all your major themes/plot elements are introduced in the first third, which you can call the introduction.

    5 Develop your themes and characters in your second third, the development.

    6 Resolve your themes, mysteries and so on in the final third, the resolution.

    7 For a good melodrama study the famous "Lester Dent master plot formula" which you can find online. It was written to show how to write a short story for the pulps, but can be adapted successfully for most stories of any length or genre.

    8 If possible have something going on while you have your characters delivering exposition or philosophising. This helps retain dramatic tension.

    9 Carrot and stick – have protagonists pursued (by an obsession or a villain) and pursuing (idea, object, person, mystery).

    10 Ignore all proferred rules and create your own, suitable for what you want to say.

  • #2
    Thanks, John! I'm presently digging through the Miscellany looking for writing inspiration and guidance, and this post definitely delivers!
    “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” - Albert Einstein


    • #3
      Basically, Mike, in his advice, is just reinforcing the "Aristotelean" structure that has been hammered into stone by Hollywood: The 3 acts of exposition, climax, and lysis.

      It's a good starting point, but it really has been done so much that we now find it refreshing when somebody finds a new approach. May I whisper that Mike is one of the writers to have done so...?

      The Crux really is rule no. 10... the one corresponding to Zelazny's "Trust your demon".
      Last edited by Jagged; 10-21-2014, 11:57 AM.
      "If the environment were a bank, we would already have saved it." -Graffitti.


      • #4
        Thanks -comments

        Thanks for this link-I have read many things by visual artists and it helped me see things and made it easier to disregard for writers -I like reading what they have to say as I try my hand like a poor Imp but not self deluded-I Always remember Robert Louis Stevenson said to make a Map first(I love this advice). Tolkien was a advocate of the quest which entailed long marches (not to mention fleshing out the whole of the Imagined world), and Steven King-who maintains his work is worthy of reading in a airport before catching your flight to pass time-forget the rules a bit like punctuation etc...people don't always talk correctly or think that way if you take the viewpoint of looking in their head-with his advice you may not end up with a timeless classic but judging from his sales a work that will make money.
        "? ",qouz"! ' c. mackay from extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of the crowds.


        • #5
          For me what I like most about Mike's work technically is I think he is one of the few 20th/21st C writers to have fully mastered the non linear narrative, and by far the most interesting and daring of those that have. Essentially the medium is its own multiverse, in fact the multiverse concept is far more than a plot device, it is essentially also a metaphor for a non linear narrative form within which characters have themselves almost a quantum existence; they can exist in multiple states at once, have multiple facets, and defy linear time and space. Nothing is fixed, everything is open to change and multiple perspectives. Within that characters become more than passive atoms in a fixed world, they seek to define themselves and the struggle in almost all his books is very often that process of seeking to define oneself and ones role and very existence in an ever changing multiverse (i.e. to create meaning because meaning is not a given, we make our own meaning and in doing so make the world meaningful).