Egyptian Novelists’ Writing Advice: Different from Anglos’?

This was supposed to be part of the initial Al Masry Al Youm – English print issue. Unfortunately, the issue was delayed, and delayed, and now here we are in the online world. The “rules,” which were inspired by these, were truncated in order to fit the print edition. Anyhow, more rules below.

But first, I found it interesting that those who gave their rules in Arabic (Miral, Khaled al-Khamissi) had rules that felt tonally quite different from those usually shared by Anglo authors. Although, I suppose, similar in essence. Only Rania’s rules really address the reality of being an Egyptian author.

One rule from each (more at AMAY), and then the “missing” rules from Mansoura Ezz Eldin, Rania Hussein Amin, and Randa Jarrar.

Ahdaf Soueif: “Note down anything you feel is of interest that comes to your mind. Things vanish.”

Khaled al-Berry: “If someone asks you for advice, give them general advice. Don’t give away your special tips. I make an exception here because it’s the first time I’ve been asked. So make use of this chance. :-)”

Miral al-Tahawy: “All ideas are stupid, unconvincing, unoriginal and worthless to start with – at least, that’s how they seem before you write them.”

Khaled al-Khamissi: “Don’t hasten the writing, let your thoughts come and go through this opening until the first letter sees the light.”

Leila Aboulela: “Never worry that readers will think that your characters are you. Once you start to care, you are self-censoring.”

Hamdy al-Gazzar: “Do not publish any text unless you like it. Work hard on your text and do not lose hope that you can achieve your goal; you can write a good text if you insist and believe in yourself.”

Rania Hussein Amin: “We should definitely not be influenced by Western literature in our writings, because our culture is different, but at the same time we must not allow our culture to limit us or to force taboos. ” (Full list of Rania’s tips here.)

Mansoura Ezz Eldin: “Being a writer means that you should always live with your eyes open wide to all the tiny details around you.” (Full list of Mansoura’s tips.)

Randa Jarrar: “No one will give you the space and time to write. You must find it yourself. Once you find it, you must fiercely protect it.” (Full list of Randa’s tips.)


  1. Sabah al khair! Thanks for an interesting post! I was half smiling half laughing simply so true keep up the hardwork for this much needed blog 🙂

    1. Sabah en-noor, ya FFSS. 🙂 Glad you’re enjoying it, of course let me know if you want to cross over from your blog and give us a guest post….

  2. Salaam! Oh! That would be lovely sure as soon as I get some time off this crazy thesis would be honoured to add something here though I have to warn you it will not be as brilliant as what you write 😉 shukran

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