Free Creative Writing Course in Ten Easy Steps!

… aka FF’s Laws for Writing Good Fiction

So many aspiring authors now feel it’s essential to take a degree in Creative Writing and unfortunately many of them then come out mistaking flowery “innovative” prose for good storytelling. Plus they often end up with massive student debts. So out of the goodness of my heart, I’ve decided to provide an alternative… and it’s completely free, more or less!

(The laws have developed as a result of specific books which either annoyed me by breaking them, or pleased me by avoiding them, but as you will see they can be applied universally. So I’ve decided in most cases not to name the book, but for those who really, really need to know, clicking on the law title will take you to the review where I first used it.)

😉 😉 😉 😉 😉

So have your pencil and notebook ready – here goes…

FF’s First Law:

The length of a book should be determined by the requirements of the story.

    • If your book is twice as long as it needs to be, your readers will enjoy it less than half as much as they should. This is a mathematical fact!

FF’s Second Law:

Blurbs should accurately reflect the contents of the book to ensure they attract the right readers.

    • If your blurb claims your book is a thriller, then it should thrill. If it claims to be history, then it should not be polemics. If it claims kinship with Jane Austen, then it shouldn’t read like Jilly Cooper.

FF’s Third Law:

To have one fart joke is unfortunate, but to have several smacks of carelessness, or a need for dietetic advice.

    • If you’re young enough to think jokes about flatulence are endlessly amusing, then you’re too young to write books. Come back in ten years.

FF’s Fourth Law:

It’s not necessary for men to be made to look bad in order for women to look good.

    • If you can’t find anything nice to say about men, then say nothing at all. If you object to misogyny, then you should avoid misandry.

FF’s Fifth Law:

Emotion arises from good characterisation.

    • Describing the sudden deaths of thousands of fictional characters the reader has never been introduced to doesn’t have the same emotional impact as would fear for one character the reader had grown to care about.

FF’s Sixth Law:

Unnamed narrators should never be used by authors who would like people to review their books.

    • Otherwise (some) reviewers might decide to name all your women Brutus and all your men Ethel, and frankly Rebecca wouldn’t be the same if the second Mrs de Winter was called Brutus. (I may be being a little selfish with this one.)

FF’s Seventh Law:

Cover artists should read the book before designing the cover.

    • If the murder method was strangling, a cover with bullet holes and blood all over it seems somewhat inappropriate.

FF’s Eighth Law:

Swearing never attracts readers who wouldn’t otherwise read the book, but frequently puts off readers who otherwise would.

    • Especially restrain yourself from swearing in the first line, or in the hashtag you use for advertising. What seems to you like authentic down-with-da-kids street-talk may seem to many readers like functional illiteracy.

FF’s Ninth Law:

A strong story well told doesn’t need “creative writing”, just good writing. 

    • Dickens never attended a Creative Writing class. Nor Jane Austen. Nor Agatha Christie. Nor PG Wodehouse.

FF’s Tenth Law:

Having the narrator constantly refer to ‘what happened that day’ without informing the reader of what actually did happen that day is far more likely to create book-hurling levels of irritation than a feeling of suspense.

    • Lawsuits from people who have broken their Kindles and/or their walls can prove to be expensive.

😉 😉 😉 😉 😉

NEXT STEPS

Once you have mastered and can apply these laws, congratulations! Send a cheque for £50,000 made out to FF’s School of Scamming Creative Writing and you will receive by return a hand-made Diploma which you can show to agents, publishers and booksellers, or simply use as an attractive decoration for your writing nook!

You will also receive a 10% discount for the Advanced Course, currently being prepared. Here’s a taster of the goodies to come…

FF’s Eleventh Law:

WRITING BLURBS IN CAPITALS DOESN’T MAKE THEM MORE EXCITING!!! 

😉 😉 😉 😉 😉

Have A Great Tuesday! 😀

61 thoughts on “Free Creative Writing Course in Ten Easy Steps!

  1. I am printing these out, framing them, and hanging on the wall in my office, FictionFan! These are absolutely brilliant! I couldn’t possibly agree more strongly with them. Now, where do I send my payment to enrol in your creative writing class???

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  2. Ha, ha, very true! Also, could they please stop mentioning the ‘incredible twist’ on the blurb, otherwise I never get to enjoy the actual book itself, as I’m too busy searching for the twist!!!

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  3. What a great list of rules… and I’ve read many books that have broken them. (I find #7 quite irksome!)

    My first thought with #8 was The Martian. I use first lines when reviewing and I was hesitant with it, considering Weiss had the F-bomb in the opening sentence. But, given the character’s situation – hey, there’s no telling what might come out of our mouths!

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    • Haha – they’ve grown out of the millions of reviews I’ve written over the years! 😉 Yeah, I hate book covers where it’s quite obvious the artist hasn’t bothered to read the book – a blonde on the front when the first page tells you the heroine is dark-haired, etc… grrr!!

      Of course, I didn’t say I was consistent!! I love The Martian despite the language, though I do feel he could have replaced the worst of it with a simple “Good grief!”… 😉

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  4. 😄 Excellent set of rules! I’ve only ever read one book with an unnamed narrator….and yes definitely to the blurb. All very good points.

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    • Haha – glad you enjoyed them! 😀 The unnamed narrator is a pet peeve of mine – I get so tired of having to type “the narrator”, “the main character”, etc., instead of just having a name to call them by!! 😉

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  5. No 7 was a particular grouch of mine when I was reviewing children’s books. Somehow those involved never seem to think they have to work as hard for children’s fiction.

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    • I hate when the cover doesn’t reflect the book. A blonde on the cover when page one tells you the heroine is dark-haired, etc. My sister used to mention a book that had a sexy blonde on the cover and there were no female characters in the book at all…!

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    • Lots of nodding of heads going on as we read this in the Bookertalk household this am. We ar going to add me more rule: the greater the number of adjectives used the more your book will annoy readers. Throw away that Thesaurus

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  6. FF, you have done a splendid service to creative writers (and readers) everywhere with this list! Thank you for laying it out in simple, yet funny and interesting terms. I love them all, and I can readily see where too many of them have been broken (even by the “popular” writers). Shame on publishers for letting mediocrity take center stage!

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  7. As someone who has a degree in Creative Writing this really made me laugh! Well done! A thousand times in agreement with books that reference “what happened that day”

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    • Hahaha! I’d actually love to do a course in Creative Writing even though I’m so rude about it! These ‘that day’ books should be banned by law… and they will be, when I’m Queen of Bookworld!! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This is especially amusing because I am taking a creative writing course right now (although the cost is nominal, it can be audited for free and is available online). Love it!

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  9. Brilliant! 😂😂😂 And so true!! Apart from the sixth law maybe. Rebecca just wouldn’t work with a named narrator. I have to make an exception for that one. And well…. I don’t really mind the present tense so the forthcoming twelfth law would be dubious for me. Quite clearly I am exactly the type of student you anticipated – ripe to be disabused of my foolishness. I’ll be posting my cheque for sure.
    Just as soon as my pennies jar has tallied up to £50,000 😂😂😂

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    • Hahaha – glad you enjoyed it! 😀 I must admit I only object to unnamed narrators since I started reviewing – I find it so awkward always referring to her as “the second Mrs de Winter”. Oh no, you’re totally wrong about the present tense – but don’t worry! By the end of the second course, you’ll be totally brainwashed and will only be able to speak in the third person past tense… 😉

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  10. The third bit of advice I feel like depends on context of book. Books for elementary schoolers and middle grade readers sometimes include jokes about flatulance, and that. doesn’t make them any less valid books. Additionally, one can think those jokes are amusing and still be a good writer or a valid writer–maybe phrase the advice better? The “If you’re young enough to think jokes about flatulence are endlessly amusing, then you’re too young to write books. Come back in ten years.” sort of discourages younger writers.

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    • Haha – you’re so right! I nearly added a bit saying “unless you’re writing for young people” but decided not to complicate it. The book that made me make up that rule was very definitely aimed at adults – lots of it would be completely unsuitable even for middle grade, I think, so I felt she was misjudging her audience, and also she’s well into her forties, so I felt she should have outgrown repeated flatulence jokes, both as reader and writer! But you do make a great point – thanks for that! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I love this! It sort of reminds me of my ‘marketing advice for authors’ blog posts that I sometimes do-if only the authors read this advice and took it to heart (rolls eyes).

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  12. HAHA excellent FF! In particular, I wholeheartedly agree with your fourth and eighth laws, breaking of which is regularly done in books, and increasingly in TV I used to like, but sadly has put me off watching them anymore.

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    • Yeah, I hardly watch TV dramas now and partly it’s because they so often are full of swearing. It’s really not that I’m a prude about these things – I just think it’s boring! And as for the way men are portrayed these days… ugh!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Haha – glad you enjoyed it! 😀 Yeah, it seems to me misleading covers and blurbs are the main reason books end up in the hands of people destined not to enjoy them…

      Like

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