Rules for Writing

If you use adjectives in your prose, do not use nouns. If you use nouns, you must not use verbs. If you use verbs, try to avoid verbs that specify a particular city.

When specifying particular cities in fiction, do not use cities that have been specified in poems. Poems have so few things left of their own anymore that we should let them have their own cities.

When writing poems, use many different points of view. Poems without multiple points of view are too strident. Prose is allowed to be strident on certain political holidays, but poems that are strident tend to resemble over-ripe fruit, and nobody likes that.

Bad writing is usually caused by over-ripe fruit, but often enough there is too little rain during the season, and that isn't any good, either. More good writing is produced by rain than by drought.

Do not write about the thing that annoyed your brother the last time you wrote about it, because he's bigger than you and he's got a mean streak and there are plenty of other things to write about, like the weather.

If you write about the weather, use as many adjectives as you can, or else your nouns will wilt and become adverbs.

Some coaches insist adverbs are stronger than nouns, but an independent panel of statisticians has proved otherwise. Despite appearances, though, statisticians don't like nouns so much as they adore conjunctions.

If you use foreign phrases in your writing, be careful to use the correct pronunciation.

There are really only three plots: the queen cried because the city became a piece of over-ripe fruit; the king killed himself because the political holiday was ruined by the weather; and the thing that annoyed your brother caused him to hate nouns.

If you write a play, call it a poem, because otherwise everyone will assume it's a blog post, and trust me, you don't want that.


  1. I love you.


  2. I love you more than Jeff does.

    With 100% fewer Evil Monkeys.

  3. Jay Lake annoyed my brother in a previous post so Jeff's love is more real but less relevant as it exists in the past tense on a day when the weather in Tokyo was simply fine rather than wondrous.

    i like you too.

  4. Hehe, Matt, Justine Larbalestier says you are spilling writers' secrets over here. I suppose you are, in a way. Good one.

  5. You are a brilliant man. (And if you apply three adjectives to Mornington Crescent, you are automatically in spoon.)

  6. Genius. Sheer genius.

    I shall be recommending to several people that they have your rules tattooed on their arms so that they can't forget them.

  7. Strunk to White: "Look here."

    White to Strunk: "Mm?"

    S to W: "These new rules make ours look positive asinine by comparison."

    W to S: "Yet we're #180 on Amazon."

    (Insert sound of Strunk clubbing White with copy of AGAINST THE DAY)

  8. I don't love you because I've only just met you, but I sure think you're funny.

  9. One of of 10 dentists recommend dipthongs to their patients who use dipthongs.

    I love you, three -- reverentially, spiritually, metaspiritually, and with rotting bananas from Brugges.


  10. "avoid verbs that specify a particular city" -- would that be like Roaming or making Nice? What about Turin? Lansing a wound? All forbidden, huh?

  11. Matthew: Brilliant. Freakin' brilliant.

    Joe: Ditto.

  12. My brain hurts, but that's okay. I don't blame you, or the weather, or overripe fruit. I blame the friend who sent me the link to this, even though I know she loves me.

  13. Matt--follow your own rules, buddy!

    If you nouns, you not verbs.

    And this sentence is wilting:
    If horribly write about transgenderly, use as many adjectives as with great haste (phrase), or else your flourescently will wilt and become clumisily.

  14. Mmmmm. Yes, I feel that this will provide adequate sustenance for the harsh months yet faced by my own good self.

    Bra. And, indeed, vo (as a wise man once told me whilst we we both engaged within a fairly deep opium binge). Santa shall visit you twice this solstice eve.

    I may not love you, however. No, all my amor is directed towards those cute and cuddly (yet bloodthirsty and quite evil) simians, spoken of above.

  15. Awesome post. Oh wait....that's an adjective!

  16. No more shanghaiing then, I guess.


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