John Grisham’s 8 Do’s And Don’ts For Aspiring Novelists

John Grisham is an American author who is best known for his legal thrillers. Before writing full time, John Grisham practiced criminal law and served in the House of Representatives in Mississippi.

He has sold more than 250 million books, which have been translated into 29 languages. Many of his novels have been filmed including The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Runaway Jury, and A Time to Kill.

Here is his advice for authors for aspiring novelists:

1.   Do — Write A Page Every Day

That’s about 200 words, or 1,000 words a week. Do that for two years and you’ll have a novel that’s long enough. Nothing will happen until you are producing at least one page per day.

2.   Don’t — Write The First Scene Until You Know The Last

This necessitates the use of a dreaded device commonly called an outline. Virtually all writers hate that word. I have yet to meet one 
who admits to using an outline.

Plotting takes careful planning. Writers waste years pursuing stories that eventually don’t work.

3.   Do — Write Your One Page Each Day At The Same Place And Time

Early morning, lunch break, on the train, late at night — it doesn’t matter. Find the extra hour, go to the same place, shut the door. No exceptions, no excuses.

4.   Don’t — Write A Prologue

Prologues are usually gimmicks to hook the reader. Avoid them. Plan your story (see No. 2) and start with Chapter 1.

5.   Do — Use Quotation Marks With Dialogue

Always include quotations marks with your dialogues. One of the basic rules of writing.

6.   Don’t — Keep A Thesaurus Within Reaching Distance

There are three categories of words: (1) words we know; (2) words we should know; (3) words nobody knows. Forget those in the third type
 and use restraint with those in the second.

A common mistake by newbie writers is using jaw-breaking vocabulary. It’s frustrating and phony.

7.   Do — Read Each Sentence At Least Three Times In Search Of Words To Cut

Most writers use too many words, and why not? We have unlimited space and few constraints. Try to cut the excess words.

8.   Don’t — Introduce 20 Characters In The First Chapter

Another rookie mistake. Your readers are curious to get started. Don’t bombard them with a barrage of names from four generations of the same family. Five names are enough to get started.


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