Aristotle’s rules for writing

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Aristotle was a philosopher from ancient Greece who was born about 384 BC in Stagira on the northern border of Greece. At the age of 17, he enrolled in Plato’s Academy where he studied a wide variety of different subjects. His writings include treatises on physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, aesthetics, poetry, theater, music, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, and writing. In 343 BC, shortly after the death of Plato, Aristotle went off to tutor Alexander the Great. He went on to found his own school, the Lyceum, where he taught on many subjects, studied widely and wrote. Aristotle died in 322 BC. He had quite a bit to say about the theory of writing. Here are some of his quotes:

To write well, express yourself like the common people, but think like a wise man.

It is amazing how many times this tenet is broken by modern novelists. Literary novels can sometimes be guilty of flouting this rule and, I guess, that’s part of their mystique – but it’s also why they usually have a much smaller readership than the blockbusters and bestsellers that are read by millions. Often, literary novelists express themselves like the wise men, as well as thinking like wise men. Obviously, a good number of readers relish the challenge of keeping up with the intellectual gymnastics of the literary novelist or none of their books would never be sold. So perhaps there is room to bend or break this rule if you are writing in that particular genre.