My Writing Rules


Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 31

Thread: My Writing Rules

  1. #1

    My Writing Rules

    There's been a lot of talk about writing rules and whether or not they're worth learning/following/considering. It's made me think about my own writing and whether I follow any rules with it.

    And I do. I'm pretty sure they're going to be too vague to satisfy people who are looking for more of a how-to approach, but I don't think I can make them any more concrete without having a bunch of exceptions sprout up.

    So, rules I follow in my writing (and the justifications that make them work!):

    1. Keep your purpose in mind. If I'm writing a business letter, it has a different purpose than a piece of fiction. If I'm writing an action scene it has a different purpose than a romantic scene. I don't think there are absolute rules to make different types of writing more effective to reach a certain goal, but I think it's always a good idea to keep the purpose in mind during both writing and editing. This expands to cover most of the genre "rules" I'm aware of, since if I'm writing with the purpose of selling to, say, Romance readers, I should write something they will want to buy.

    2. Start your story where your story starts. There are certainly lots of great writers who don't follow this rule. But for me, it's is important. I think it can probably be re-framed in terms of inciting incidents or turning points or something, but I'm not really comfortable with that jargon and I don't want to accidentally mis-use it. So I just ask myself - when do things change for my character? And that's where I start writing.

    3. Don't cheat. These are just getting more and more vague, aren't they? For me, this means not fudging things. If I've built a character in such a way that the character would do X in a certain situation, but it would be really, really cool for the plot if the character did Y... too bad. The character needs to do X. Otherwise I'm cheating. If it takes ten hours to drive from A to B in reality, and I'm writing a realistic story, then I can't have my characters drive that distance in six hours, no matter how convenient it would be. No cheating.

    4. ? I feel like there must be more...

    Anyone got any rules of this sort that they follow in their writing?

  2. #2
    Follow the rules of the universe.

    This is a variation of, or perhaps simply another example of, the "no cheating" rule. Even in fantasy writing, there's rules or laws of the universe. And you have to follow them. If it takes a certain skill to do a certain magic, then don't have an inept character able to do it. Or have a skilled character suddenly unable to do it, just to make the plot go where you want it.

  3. #3
    I have found that some people don't like to be brave and do things that are different. And some people like to be brave and do things that are different. My rule for grammar is to do what's best. If it's new or different, I do it. That's not so hard for me, because I like new and different. But if the best thing is the same-old same-old, or following a rule, I do that.

    Ah, I just realized that's an instance of what Bishop told me -- the story always comes first.
    Useful information you can't find anywhere else. Hidden Content s Hidden Content

  4. #4
    Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9 bdcharles's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    In a far-distant otherworld.
    Posts
    3,579
    Blog Entries
    4
    My inner critic/editor is pretty unforgiving. Here is a greatly abridged subset of the rules to which I subject myself. Enjoy!


    • No cliches or lazy writing unless I am willing to hang a lampshade on them and acknowledge them as such in the story, and even that must be kept to a minimum.
    • No going on too long and messing up the beat. If I wanted to spend time with the pub dullard I'd spend time with myself, not my imaginary friends.
    • No being boring. Just don't. Boringness is a capital offence and a deadly sin rolled into one.
    • No repeating words too close together unless for effect. Absolutely no repeating a key phrase or a phrase which I think is rather good. Ever. It gets one shot at the hereafter, and if it doesn't instantly go viral then it was never meant to be.
    • No repeating sentence structures too soon. It starts to look like I don't know what I am doing.
    • No grammar mistakes unless I am willingly butchering spag for effect, realistic dialogue, etc. The text will be edited to within microns of perfection.
    • Nothing cheesy will be permitted. If a character acts in a ludicrous fashion, their humiliation will be immortalised in story and they will pay for it before the last page.
    • No anemic text. All prose must be, if not baroque and bursting with bountiful life, at least able to conjure up some sort of mental picture. Efficient data transfer is for computer networks and has no place in my story. If there are any sentence fragments, someone better be getting their skull bashed in, and if there are any comma splices, someone better be in the dying seconds before a massive impact.
    • And lastly, have fun! Yay!


    *wet streamer sound*


    Hidden Content Monthly Fiction Challenge


    Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror which we are barely able to endure, and are awed,
    because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
    - Rainer Maria Rilke, "Elegy I"

    *

    Is this fire, or is this mask?
    It's the Mantasy!
    - Anonymous

    *

    C'mon everybody, don't need this crap.
    - Wham!





  5. #5
    I think certain things deserve repetition. What would life be without "live long and prosper", "may the force be with you", or the Rules of Acquisition? Granted, those are all cinema or television. I'm sure books have phrases, too. Poirot's "little grey cells" is one. I can't think of anything from Harry Potter. Is it possible that HP doesn't have a repeated phrase?

  6. #6
    Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9 bdcharles's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    In a far-distant otherworld.
    Posts
    3,579
    Blog Entries
    4
    Quote Originally Posted by Jack of all trades View Post
    I think certain things deserve repetition. What would life be without "live long and prosper", "may the force be with you", or the Rules of Acquisition? Granted, those are all cinema or television. I'm sure books have phrases, too. Poirot's "little grey cells" is one. I can't think of anything from Harry Potter. Is it possible that HP doesn't have a repeated phrase?
    That would be for effect, like a motif, or to press home a point. Of course, words like and and the and said will get repeated, but they're sand, they're everywhere, no-one really cares about them. But if, for instance I wrote the word effect here, that lessens the effect of the first effect and makes it hard to really press home the point.


    Hidden Content Monthly Fiction Challenge


    Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror which we are barely able to endure, and are awed,
    because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
    - Rainer Maria Rilke, "Elegy I"

    *

    Is this fire, or is this mask?
    It's the Mantasy!
    - Anonymous

    *

    C'mon everybody, don't need this crap.
    - Wham!





  7. #7
    1. Write something I would pay to read.
    2. Focus on story above all else (not plot -- story -- there's a difference).
    3. Use clear, concise, vivid language.
    4. Respect my readers. Never write down to them.
    5. Make every damned word count (something I'm not so good about in forum posting).
    6. Write with a flame, edit with ice.
    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence : Simon & Garfunkel


    Those who enjoy stirring the chamber-pot should be required to lick the spoon.

    Our job as writers is to make readers dream, to infiltrate their minds with our words and create a new reality; a reality not theirs, and not ours, but a new, unique combination of both.

    Visit Amazon and the Kindle Store to check out Reflections in a Black Mirror, and Chase

    Hidden Content






  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Terry D View Post
    Focus on story above all else (not plot -- story -- there's a difference).
    This sounds like it deserves a discussion all its own.

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry D
    Write with a flame, edit with ice.
    Awesome-sauce.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Kyle R View Post
    This sounds like it deserves a discussion all its own.
    When I get the time, maybe I'll start one.
    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence : Simon & Garfunkel


    Those who enjoy stirring the chamber-pot should be required to lick the spoon.

    Our job as writers is to make readers dream, to infiltrate their minds with our words and create a new reality; a reality not theirs, and not ours, but a new, unique combination of both.

    Visit Amazon and the Kindle Store to check out Reflections in a Black Mirror, and Chase

    Hidden Content






  10. #10
    I have rules similar to BV's rules #1 & 3.

    I make a conscious effort to never get in a hurry to tell the story because usually character development suffers.

    I strive for accuracy to such a degree that my novels often include an appendix where I detail how the unbelievable things are true. This is to dispel erroneous beliefs people get from Hollywood movies. To this end I do a lot of research, and whenever possible I go and do some of the things I write about.

    Another big rule of mine is consistent characters. I work hard to ensure that they do things that would be inline with their personality. I hated Green Lantern because the hero was totally inconsistent---hotshot fighter jock suddenly turns into reluctant hero when he gets the ring? WTF, over?

Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
This website uses cookies
We use cookies to store session information to facilitate remembering your login information, to allow you to save website preferences, to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners.