“Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

William Shakespeare’s 10 Rules O’ Writing

1. Write ye not a new tale if’t can at all be helped. Plunder thou yon histories, myths and pre-Renaissance Italian romances for plot, setting, character, structure, style and theme. If anyone notice, claim ye homage.

2. Makest thou heroine a maiden as young as is strictly legal.

3. Lest there be doubt on who be your varlet, give him a hump. Or a hooked nose. Or black skin. If ye can manage all three in one villain, have on.

4. A good title be half the battle. ‘Big Fuss About Nowt’ flyeth not.

5. A pox on reality. Toss ye in some ghost, fairy, witch and monster for good jizz. If ye can handle a haunted kitchen sink, have on.

6. If ye suffer from block, have your mistress take up the quill while you cane opium and give her daughter goodly tup. If ye be nabbed, claim research.

7. Ne’er miss a chance for identity mistook, for such wrangling be good for fifty page or more. If they be cross-dressers, ye’ll get a whole tale.

8. Prithee, no more than one monologue per page. Unless folio pages they be. But e’en then, no more than three, max.

9. If the pace should flag, lobbest thou in a ‘Gadsooks!’ or ‘Forsooth!’ Or have skewered a king, general, politician or prince. For the money shot, go with ‘Gadsooks, I be skewered, forsooth!’ The plebs love’t.

10. Once in while end your line with a rhyme / ’Tis posh as a turret and waste some more time.

25 comments:

Donna said...

LOL! Brilliant Dec

bookwitch said...

I love it!

(Which one is it you do again?)

Dana King said...

Alas, where has such guidance been ‘ere this
When all at sea my tales do flee from me
To harbour take in realms I may not find
To vex until solution comes to mind.

Bravo, Sir.

John McFetridge said...

Ah, the Shakespearian money shot.

Well done.

Try and get a copyright on this right away, pretty soon it'll be spreading around the web with no author attatched. Or people claiming it was Kurt Vonnegut.

Naomi Johnson said...

I second McFetridge's advice. I'm already thinking of stealing it.

Declan Burke said...

Folks - As Shakespeare knew better than most, talent borrows, genius steals. Hoik it away, forsooth...

Cheers, Dec

seana said...

Not a big fan, then?

Declan Burke said...

Seana - If I could take only one book with me to a desert island, it'd be Shakespeare's complete plays. Pretty much anything anyone really needs to know about life, the universe and everything is in there, and nicely put it all is too.

Cheers, Dec

seana said...

I'm with you there, but then your 'writing rules' do have a grain of truth to them too.

Pepper Smith said...

LOL! Nicely done.

Uiscebot said...

Classic! Pun intended.

Anonymous said...

#1: you don't want the "thou" after "Plunder." #2 should be "thy maiden," not "thou maiden."

Declan Burke said...

Come on, Anonymous? Only two faults to be found with the cod-Shakespearian spoof? People will think you're not trying ...

Cheers, Dec

bookwitch said...

But it WAS Kurt who wrote this...

Meg Rosoff said...

GENIUS. Now can we get rid of the usual Guardian suspects and give you centre stage next time?

bookwitch said...

Don't we want to keep him to ourselves?

kathryn evans said...

Completely loved this - made me laugh until my cross gartered stockings split.

bookwitch said...

Now people are going forsooth on my blog. Gadzooks.

maryom said...

Brilliant.

julie w said...

Forsooth you forgot no 11, verily if anyone looketh vaguely sleepy, haveth a clown in a graveyard scene......profundity and hilarity in one and bound to make it stretch to an extra interval.

Dorte H said...

Oh. As if my blog roll isn´t long enough already. Well, I give in. This blog IS addictive.

Peter Rozovsky said...

When in doubt, have a man come through the door with an arquebus in his hand.
==============
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
http://www.detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

Peter Rozovsky said...

Createst thou a series character named Henry or mayhap Richard.
==============
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
http://www.detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

Darlyn said...

I love the first one. Haha. Pretty funny entry. :)

Mari Miniatt said...

Loved it, especially because I am recovering from a cast party for the play my husband finished last night (Macbeth.
You should also add, if you really want to make your villain evil have him kill a few innocent kids.