Filing Cabinet of the Damned

Friday, April 29, 2005

The Laws of Fiction?

What are the laws of fiction?

I've come up with a few on my own:

First law: Never bore the reader.

Fourth law: Monkeys are funny. (Corollary to the fourth law: Talking monkeys are hilarious.)

Fifth law: When in doubt, have one character kick another in the nuts.

Eighth law (Chekhov's Law): "Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." --A. Chekhov*

Ninth law: Immature writers create "homages." Mature writers steal.

Fourteenth law: Any character can be improved by making the character talk like a pirate.

Nineteeth law (Steve Martin's Axiom): "I believe entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art, you are an idiot." --S. Martin

Twenty-second law: Any story can be improved by the addition of monkeys, ninjas, or both.

These aren't just the fevered workings of a dorkish mind. I can prove their validity. Take the twenty-second law, for example. Wouldn't Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day be vastly improved by the addition of a fiddle-playing monkey and a small army of ninjas? Of course it would.

I appeal to you folks out there in Internet-Land. What are other Laws of Fiction?

*Edited to fix the spelling of Chekhov's name. Apparently, the more common transliteration schemes spell it with an "h." Whoops. Dang Cyrillic writing system...


  • Let's see:

    Squirrels don't run, they scamper.

    If you're bored with what you're writing, you know the reader will be bored. Actually, the reader will never be bored, because the editor will be bored in his place.

    When things get slow, have someone walk in with a gun. (The Raymond Chandler trick.)

    By Blogger nshumate, at 12:35 PM  

  • This is much like Chekov's law: Show, don't tell.

    In comics, it's always violated by the origin story being crammed in at an awkward point in the action, or the character's name being brought to your attention with the subtelty of a jackhammer (often in a text box, when it would be just as easy to have his name simple mentioned at an appropriate point). A good writer eases an origin story into the writing where it belongs.

    By Blogger Tim S, at 7:31 PM  

  • I think it was Chekhov who said that a gun on the mantlepiece in act one will be fired by act three.

    I'd add that any film can be made exponentially worse simply by including Adam Sandler in it.

    By Blogger Dean Dad, at 11:14 AM  

  • "People talk differently from one another."

    This one my pet peeves, as I am very sensitive to dialog. Far too many writers have all (or most) of their character talk just as they do.

    Once I had to review a manuscript that had the Pope say, "Okay, clear my calendar."

    By Blogger Scipio, at 2:07 PM  

  • A corrolary to the twenty-second law: Any story can be improved exponentially by the inclusion of monkey ninjas.

    By Blogger Rick Jones, really, at 9:38 AM  

  • The thirteenth law (the fifth plus the eighth):
    Don't tell me he is getting kicked in the nuts, show me how he instantly becomes a soprano.

    By Blogger Iznogood, at 1:07 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home