Author Topic: Jonathan Franzen's writing rules  (Read 945 times)

icehaven

  • I will be in the bar, with my head on the bar
Jonathan Franzen's writing rules
« on: November 16, 2018, 01:26:20 PM »
Jonathan Franzen's written 10 rules for writing and they haven't been universally welcomed. I think they're just a bit weird and wonder if he has a book to flog he's feeling OK.
The one about how information being free and accessible ''devalues'' research has provoked the most ire as it does kind of sound like he's saying it shouldn't be, as if libraries should charge or it should be harder/more expensive to access information on the internet or something. I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt but it's hard to see what else he means by that. I daresay there's a certain amount of just trying to be talked about going on but it's not even as if the list is particularly offensive or provocative, it's just a bit daft and odd.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2018, 01:36:26 PM by icehaven »

Re: Jonathan Franzen's writing rules
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2018, 01:37:24 PM »
I hate his use of "his" in Rule No. 8. All the kids are using "they" and "their" in the singular these days.

Wet Blanket

  • I am the Colour Blind Dog-Thief
Re: Jonathan Franzen's writing rules
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2018, 02:48:06 PM »
I thought that he meant that on account of the internet there's no point stuffing your novel with loads of arcane details in the manner of yore, not that information shouldn't be free.

Him and Zadie Smith both insist you shouldn't use the first person, but I'm a big fan of first-person, unreliable narrators, so fuck him. Everything he's written since The Corrections has been terrible anyway. Freedom was horseshit

icehaven

  • I will be in the bar, with my head on the bar
Re: Jonathan Franzen's writing rules
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2018, 03:09:35 PM »
I thought that he meant that on account of the internet there's no point stuffing your novel with loads of arcane details in the manner of yore, not that information shouldn't be free.

I suppose that's possible. Is it ironic if a writer writes a writing rule so clumsily that it's misinterpreted by half the people who read it?

Queneau

  • That was a joke. That's all it was, it was a joke.
Re: Jonathan Franzen's writing rules
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2018, 03:28:57 PM »
What a bizarre list. I wonder what the purpose of putting it together was?

Wet Blanket

  • I am the Colour Blind Dog-Thief
Re: Jonathan Franzen's writing rules
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2018, 03:48:42 PM »
It's not new, it's being used to promote a new collection of essays. It appeared in this Guardian article from 2010, along with other writers' top ten suggestions. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/feb/20/ten-rules-for-writing-fiction-part-one

Queneau

  • That was a joke. That's all it was, it was a joke.
Re: Jonathan Franzen's writing rules
« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2018, 03:54:01 PM »
It's not new, it's being used to promote a new collection of essays. It appeared in this Guardian article from 2010, along with other writers' top ten suggestions. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/feb/20/ten-rules-for-writing-fiction-part-one

That certainly makes a not very interesting story even less interesting. Thanks.

Wet Blanket

  • I am the Colour Blind Dog-Thief
Re: Jonathan Franzen's writing rules
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2018, 04:00:31 PM »
It's a bit unfair on him really, because he's being pilloried as if he's suddenly decided to send down ten commandments from Great American Writer Hill, not wanked off a quick list for a light hearted article along with a dozen other authors the best part of a decade ago.

Large Noise

  • class at fighting
Re: Jonathan Franzen's writing rules
« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2018, 04:18:17 PM »
The Corrections is the only novel of his I've read and I really enjoyed it.

Honestly, the number of cunts on my twitter feed who give it "Twitter is a hellsite", "We're living in cyber-feudalism" 364 days of the year. Then as soon as Franzen's in the news saying he hates the internet it's "WHY DON'T YOU GO ONLINE FRAZEN YOU SNOB."

Edit:I misspelt Franzen twice in this post.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2018, 07:37:31 PM by Large Noise »

George Oscar Bluth II

  • Karma: +69 / -420
Re: Jonathan Franzen's writing rules
« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2018, 07:36:42 PM »
Is rule 1 "write characters you want to fuck" because it's clearly his first rule.

grassbath

  • Programmed by fellas with compassion and vision
Re: Jonathan Franzen's writing rules
« Reply #10 on: November 16, 2018, 08:55:48 PM »
I think number 8 is a bit hysterical-sounding, but let's remember that Franzen loves 'fiction' as a thing. Big novels you can get lost in with characters in 'em - BOOKS. To your average observer, that popular art form is on the decline, and the Internet is fairly close to hand if you want a scapegoat for it.

I think people are misinterpreting number 4. Pre-internet, 'voluminous research' by an author might have required travel, going to libraries, finding rare books, talking to experts or people with lived experience or whatever. Now you can research from your wankpit if you like, with as much breadth but arguably less of a depth of experience. I don't think he's saying that information *shouldn't be* free and universally accessible.

Then again though, number 6 is 'you see more sitting still than chasing after.' Come on Franzen, it's the wankpit or the valuable research, you can't have both.

Pingers

  • With the ill behaviour
Re: Jonathan Franzen's writing rules
« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2018, 09:51:11 PM »
Is rule 1 "write characters you want to fuck" because it's clearly his first rule.

Ha! Nailed him for Purity there, I take it there are others?

George Oscar Bluth II

  • Karma: +69 / -420
Re: Jonathan Franzen's writing rules
« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2018, 09:50:11 AM »
One of the characters in Freedom too. An older man leaves wife for young, Asian colleague type thing.

Don't know why I bother with him, liked the Corrections a lot but that's about it.

Pingers

  • With the ill behaviour
Re: Jonathan Franzen's writing rules
« Reply #13 on: November 17, 2018, 04:35:09 PM »
One of the characters in Freedom too. An older man leaves wife for young, Asian colleague type thing.

Don't know why I bother with him, liked the Corrections a lot but that's about it.

I've only read Purity, it didn't inspire me to read any of his others. The title character has a cracking pair of Charlies.

Re: Jonathan Franzen's writing rules
« Reply #14 on: November 17, 2018, 04:46:12 PM »
I always confuse him with that guy who tried to leave his wife for Natalie Portman.

chveik

  • it was banned in Germany!
Re: Jonathan Franzen's writing rules
« Reply #15 on: November 17, 2018, 05:35:34 PM »
Freedom is not that bad, Purity is the real stinker.

Mister Six

  • Half-masted, bass-boosted, sling-backed
Re: Jonathan Franzen's writing rules
« Reply #16 on: November 18, 2018, 06:33:59 AM »
Franzen's fiction is terrible, so I reckon I'll ignore them.

JesusAndYourBush

  • Earnest silky coconut shell
    • http://www.google.com
Re: Jonathan Franzen's writing rules
« Reply #17 on: November 18, 2018, 12:27:14 PM »
I thought that he meant that on account of the internet there's no point stuffing your novel with loads of arcane details in the manner of yore, not that information shouldn't be free.

Yes, he's not hating libraries, it connects with point 8, he's saying that because of all the information on the internet it's made research a simpler task than it used to be, but because of the vast amounts of information (not all of it good or accurate) the results of that research won't necessary be of as good quality as it used to be pre-internet.

Pingers

  • With the ill behaviour
Re: Jonathan Franzen's writing rules
« Reply #18 on: November 18, 2018, 03:40:46 PM »
I much prefer Will Self's rules


Re: Jonathan Franzen's writing rules
« Reply #20 on: November 19, 2018, 09:54:26 AM »
Just kind of echoing what's already been said: I've read - and thoroughly enjoyed - The Corrections, but I strangely have no desire to read anything else of his.

icehaven

  • I will be in the bar, with my head on the bar