Rules of literature?

I’ve always hated that sort of self-indulgent relativism. Those defeatist liberals. You know the sort – the kind of historians who say that we can’t ever be objective so we shouldn’t even try, the kind of leftists who equate barbaric Middle-Eastern tyrannies with Western democracies, the kind of Christians who call secularism “just your religion”. They say these things and then just sit back in their armchairs smugly. But no, I’m sorry – it’s invariably bullshit masked in perfume.

That said, when it comes to literature it’s sort of difficult to avoid that conclusion, don’t you think? Are there rules for writing novels? If there are, then they don’t seem to change very much. We’ve loved Shakespeare for centuries. Maybe it’s just about making it real. About good communication. That’s unhelpfully vague, isn’t it?

Is it paradoxical to ask this question? Possibly, possibly not. The fact that people won’t agree over it doesn’t mean there aren’t rules, just that readers aren’t sure what they are. Oh well.

Another terribly useful blog post form yours truly.

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One Comment on “Rules of literature?”

  1. […] writing is good, and others is bad; and in so rich a language tepid generalisations for each are the best we can hope for. Of course, any rules can therefore inevitably be reduced to ”largely empty” advice. I […]


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