Rules for Novelists — Rules for Living

In Vermont, we’ve skipped from the Ides of November to the middle of January — just like that — and none of us have even eaten any Thanksgiving turkey.

The 13-year-old, on her second snow day this week, calculates how long into June the school year already stretches. She’s up early anyway, curled on the couch with her cats and her library book, immersed in an imaginary fictive world. I leave her be. The snow shoveling can wait.

Here’s rules 1 and 10 from Jonathan Franzen’s “Ten Rules for the Novelist.” I’m darn sure I nail the relentless rule at least.

The reader is a friend, not an adversary, not a spectator…. You have to love before you can be relentless.

— Jonathan Franzen, The End of the End of the Earth


By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.

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