Literary Birthday - 11 February - Jane Yolen

Happy Birthday, Jane Yolen, born 11 February 1939

  1. Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.
  2. A child who can love the oddities of a fantasy book cannot possibly be xenophobic as an adult. What is a different colour, a different culture, a different tongue for a child who has already mastered Elvish, respected Puddleglums, or fallen under the spell of dark-skinned Ged?
  3. Ideas are the cheapest part of the writing. They are free. The hard part is what you do with ideas you've gathered.
  4. A book is a wonderful present. Though it may grow worn, it will never grow old.
  5. All writers write about themselves, just as the old storytellers chose to tell stories that spoke to and about themselves. They call it the world, but it is themselves they portray. The world of which they write is like a mirror that reflects the inside of their hearts, often more truly than they know.
  6. Take a step, breathe in the world, give it out again in story, poem, song, art.
  7. Fairy Tales always have a happy ending.' That depends... on whether you are Rumpelstiltskin or the Queen.
  8. Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.
  9. Time may heal all wounds, but it does not erase the scars.
  10. The thing I want to know is, if you tell your brain not to do stuff... and it keeps doing it anyway, does that mean your mind has a mind of its own? And if it does, then who's in charge here, anyway?

10 of Jane Yolen’s 20 Rules of Writing from Ingrid’s Notes

  1. Eschew the exclamation point!
  2. Go easy on the adverbs.
  3. Don’t let characters float on the page. Anchor them with action. No talking endlessly!
  4. BIC = Butt In Chair. HOP = Heart On Page. PNF = Passion Not Fashion. You may never be the best but you can always get better.
  5. No one expects a happy ending unless it’s a fairy tale. We need a meaningful ending. It may not be easy. Hard choices are good.
  6. Not everything should be simplified. Complexity adds richness.
  7. Exercise the drawing/writing muscle! Don’t get flabby! One page a day and you have a 365 page book by the end of the year, or that many picture books. Exercise!
  8. Read what you have written out loud. It will help you to see what you have missed.
  9. Dealing with the dreaded writer's block. It is all in your mind. The solution is to stand up, walk, eat, do other things! Distract yourself. If that doesn’t work, start a new writing project. Don’t go read a book, you will get that authors voice in your head instead of your own.
  10. Not every project will be completed. Moaning about this is for sissies.

Jane Yolen’s rules of writing were presented as the closing keynote address at the SCBWI New York Winter Conference in January 2010. Read all 20 rules here.

Yolen is an American writer of fantasy, science fiction, and children’s books. She is the author or editor of more than 280 books, including The Devil’s ArithmeticSister Emily’s LightshipLost Girls, and Owl Moon.

Source for Image

Amanda Patterson by Amanda Patterson.Follow her on  Pinterest,  Facebook,  LinkedIn,  Google+,  Tumblr,  and  Twitter.


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