Nietzsche’s 10 Rules Mastery for Writing with Style.


There is no wonder, for sure, when one meets a genius with a stormy brain like Nietzsche, that he can always be good for a surprise!
He has written about teaching people with his advice; for example, in his book: Ecce Homo, he talks about why he is so smart. And now, we can have even good tips to write which, in my opinion, are very useful. I think he has always tried to validate himself, not only to others but also to himself.

One of the highest points in his life was the encounter with Lou Andreas-Salome. I once wrote an article about this appealing, intelligent, challenging and fascinating woman. Man must be lucky to meet a woman like her; awakening!

In fact, a man’s soul will be prepared by the woman’s; one must be lucky to have the right one: Nietzsche has had his sister and Lou; the duality! The influences show his development in his heritage.

Now let’s read about these ten rules to have the right style in writing.

The life of Russian-born poet, novelist, critic, and first female psychologist Lou Andreas-Salomé has provided fodder for both salacious speculation and intellectual drama in film and on the page for the amount of romantic attention she attracted from European intellectuals like philosopher Paul Rée, poet Ranier Maria Rilke, and Friedrich Nietzsche. Emotionally intense Nietzsche became infatuated with Salomé, proposed marriage, and, when she declined, broke off their relationship in an abrupt Nietzschean fashion.

For her part, Salomé so valued these friendships she made a proposal of her own: that she, Nietzsche and Rée, writes D.A. Barry at 3:AM Magazine, “live together in a celibate household where they might discuss philosophy, literature and art.” The idea scandalized Nietzsche’s sister and social circle and may have contributed to the “passionate criticism” Salomé’s 1894 biographical study, Friedrich Nietzsche: The Man and His Works, received. Barry argues that the “much-maligned” work deserves a reappraisal as “a psychological portrait.”

In Nietzsche, Salomé wrote, we see “sorrowful ailing and triumphal recovery, incandescent intoxication and cool consciousness. One senses here the close entwining of mutual contradictions; one senses the overflowing and voluntary plunge of over-stimulated and tensed energies into chaos, darkness and terror, and then an ascending urge toward the light and most tender moments.” We might see this passage as charged by the remembrance of a friend, with whom she once “climbed Monte Sacro,” she claimed, in 1882, “where he told her of the concept of the Eternal Recurrence ‘in a quiet voice with all the signs of deepest horror.'”

Perhaps primarily, we should see Salomé’s impressions as an effect of Nietzsche’s turbulent prose, reaching its apotheosis in his experimentally philosophical novel, Thus Spake Zarathustra. As a theorist of the embodiment of ideas, of their inextricable relation to the physical and the social, Nietzsche had some concrete ideas about literary style, which he communicated to Salomé in an 1882 note titled “Toward the Teaching of Style.” Before writers began issuing “similar sets of commandments,” writes Maria Popova at Brain Pickings, Nietzsche “set down ten stylistic rules of writing,” which you can find below in their original list form.

1. Of prime necessity is life: a style should live.

2. Style should be suited to the specific person with whom you wish to communicate. (The law of mutual relation.)

3. First, one must determine precisely “what-and-what do I wish to say and present,” before you may write. Writing must be mimicry.

4. Since the writer lacks many of the speaker’s means, he must in general have for his model a very expressive kind of presentation of necessity, the written copy will appear much paler.

5. The richness of life reveals itself through a richness of gestures. One must learn to feel everything — the length and retarding of sentences, interpunctuations, the choice of words, the pausing, the sequence of arguments — like gestures.

6. Be careful with periods! Only those people who also have long duration of breath while speaking are entitled to periods. With most people, the period is a matter of affectation.

7. Style ought to prove that one believes in an idea; not only that one thinks it but also feels it.

8. The more abstract a truth which one wishes to teach, the more one must first entice the senses.

9. Strategy on the part of the good writer of prose consists of choosing his means for stepping close to poetry but never stepping into it.

10. It is not good manners or clever to deprive one’s reader of the most obvious objections. It is very good manners and very clever to leave it to one’s reader alone to pronounce the ultimate quintessence of our wisdom.

As with all such prescriptions, we are free to take or leave these rules as we see fit. But we should not ignore them. While Nietzsche’s perspectivism has been (mis)interpreted as wanton subjectivity, his veneration for antiquity places a high value on formal constraints. His prose, we might say, resides in that tension between Dionysian abandon and Apollonian cool, and his rules address what liberal arts professors once called the Trivium: grammar, rhetoric, and logic: the three supports of moving, expressive, persuasive writing.

Salomé was so impressed with these aphoristic rules that she included them in her biography, remarking, “to examine Nietzsche’s style for causes and conditions means far more than examining the mere form in which his ideas are expressed; rather, it means that we can listen to his inner soundings.” Isn’t this what excellent writing should feel like?

Salomé wrote in her study that “Nietzsche not only mastered language but also transcended its inadequacies.” (As Nietzsche himself commented in 1886, notes Hugo Drochon, he needed to invent “a language of my very own.”) Nietzsche’s bold-yet-disciplined writing found a complement in Salomé’s boldly keen analysis. From her, we can also perhaps glean another principle: “No matter how calumnious the public attacks on her,” writes Barry, “particularly from [his sister] Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche during the Nazi period in Germany, Salomé did not respond to them.”

21 thoughts on “Nietzsche’s 10 Rules Mastery for Writing with Style.

  1. Rule number four resonates with me deeply as my poems are pale versions of what my heart and soul whisper. Lou sounds like she was an enchantress for whom men (and several women I’m sure!) fell instantly in love with her. A muse to many important thinkers of her day! Thank you for sharing this Aladin, it’s got me thinking! Love and light, Deborah.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That brings many to think more deeply, though I have never felt your poems pale! I don’t know about the others, and I might not be so poetic, but for me, they talk to me very insidely. Anyway, I m happy to make you think. I must admit that Lou was a dream woman for every man (and woman).😉🥰💖🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  2. elainemansfield

    I also like #5 and feel I must notice every gesture and learn how to describe it. I’m back working with the Monarch butterfly stories where there are many gestures and much beauty.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for quoting the rules – I’d never come across them before; 7. through 10. I’m delighted to find I already use all the time.
    With 8. a personal favorite discovered experimentally: if you have an idea you wish to espouse in your fiction, the fiction must be even MORE entertaining to sneak it into the reader’s consciousness. ‘No one like to be preached to’ is the short version.
    Thanks to Jack Eason for leading me here.

    Liked by 1 person

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