Your Rules On Writing - Page 2


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Thread: Your Rules On Writing

  1. #11
    Two rules that I strive to follow is to keep all of my characters flawed, and not to sanitize sensitive subjects in my works simply because it might shock or offend some thin-skinned readers.

    The one thing I absolutely loathe in literature and film is picture-perfect do-gooder Mary Sues as protagonists, and often find myself rooting for the villains precisely because they are flawed like real human beings. All humans, even those one could generally describe as good, have their flaws, nowhere those flaws become more apparent than in extreme situations that wash away the thin veneer of civility that we all like to paint ourselves over with. Only once that veneer has been stripped away do we truly know what a person is like. Oftentimes we find much to our shock and surprise that the seemingly righteous and upstanding folk turn out to in fact be selfish, ignoble and backstabbing cowards and scoundrels, while the usual losers and scoundrels prove themselves capable of feats of valor and selflesness nobody thought possible. Which is why I strive to write my characters as flawed and imperfect - humanity means doing the right thing in spite of one's flaws, rather than out of a lack of them.

    I also resent the sanitized worldview that so many writers and movie-makers tend to present. So where it concerns violence, sex and other sensitive matters, I don't hold back from graphic descriptions as a rule as long as it merits the storyline. Ugly and horrible matters shouldn't be written any tiniest bit less ugly and horrible than they really are in my opinion.

  2. #12
    Context is paramount. Be prepared to cull your children.

  3. #13
    I dont technically have rules but I wanted to post this one which comes from someone else. Have characters want something if only a glass of water.- Kurt Vonnegut. Example of executing the rule, is that you can't please everyone. If you want revenge or want to behave obediently because your cousin said so. That's a simple way to see why it is important. It creates a situation as well. The writer actually has this quote in this book I own but that is a useful example that had me stumped. (I never followed rules but this one seems easy to follow). So name something the character won't get that they want from the other character. ( the consequences)
    Last edited by Theglasshouse; May 14th, 2019 at 02:05 AM.
    I would follow as in believe in the words of good moral leaders. Rather than the beliefs of oneself.
    The most difficult thing for a writer to comprehend is to experience silence, so speak up. (quoted from a member)

  4. #14
    I try to always start with my characters.
    A lot of people start out describing the scene, or the world, but I prefer to start with the character, and paint the world thru their eyes.




    Something else I do: See, until you have written those first 100 pages, you really don;t know your characters. You may have a file on them, but that's all it is...a file. Your characters will come alive under your pen.
    That's why your characters are the weakest at the beginning of the book---because when you wrote them you really didn't know them very well.

    So what I do, is to write those first 100 pages (or so), until I really know the characters, then I doubleback to the beginning and apply that knowledge where they are the thinnest. During the doubleback I also make sure the story is on the proper trajectory so it won't be so hard to fix in final edit.

  5. #15
    Doublebacks help with editing too. If you doubleback every 100 pages (or so), and tweak the material, not only is it better, but the final editing won't be some nightmarish event. Your first full read-thru is actually quite pleasing if you did doublebacks.

  6. #16
    Mentor Megan Pearson's Avatar
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    Not that I subscribe to these as mine, I am surprised two old standbys I learned from an MFA grad haven't been mentioned:

    1. sit in chair and
    2. actually write.

    I know that may seem overly simplistic, but she complained it was the most difficult part of the program for students to master.



    As for myself, for the longest time I held onto a phrase from Finding Forester: "Just PUNCH the keys!!!"

    These days, I'm not sure I have an overriding rule on writing. Too much to think through to summarize it concisely. It's not that the rules changed; I changed. Ask again in six months...maybe I'll have a new answer.
    "A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for."
    ~ John A. Shedd


  7. #17
    Mentor Megan Pearson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ralph Rotten View Post
    I try to always start with my characters.
    A lot of people start out describing the scene, or the world, but I prefer to start with the character, and paint the world thru their eyes.

    Something else I do: See, until you have written those first 100 pages, you really don;t know your characters. You may have a file on them, but that's all it is...a file. Your characters will come alive under your pen.
    That's why your characters are the weakest at the beginning of the book---because when you wrote them you really didn't know them very well.

    So what I do, is to write those first 100 pages (or so), until I really know the characters, then I doubleback to the beginning and apply that knowledge where they are the thinnest. During the doubleback I also make sure the story is on the proper trajectory so it won't be so hard to fix in final edit.

    I love this. It gives us the why any world exists and provides the meaning to all action/response or cause/effect sequences upon which everything else exists--setting, plot, dialogue, what-have-you. Without the who, why should we bother?


    [BTW, I love Jane. You could call my approach a characters-first prejudice.]
    "A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for."
    ~ John A. Shedd


  8. #18
    Mentor Megan Pearson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberWar View Post
    Two rules that I strive to follow is to keep all of my characters flawed, and not to sanitize sensitive subjects in my works simply because it might shock or offend some thin-skinned readers.
    Hey, CyberWar,

    I see what you're saying. If I may summarize your post, your desire is for an honest representation of life. I, too, desire that in my writing. And I also agree that the media-generated worldview is flawed. Here's a question, one I think you've wrestled with for you point out how even scoundrels can surprise the world with acts of valor. If we, as writers, glorify evil as being the ultimate value in our works, then where is there room for redemption or hope?

    Just a thought.

    Megan
    "A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for."
    ~ John A. Shedd


  9. #19
    1 - Write
    2 - Be honest
    3 - Keep it real (with myself)
    4 - Take everything to it's natural conclusion (even if it doesn't get applied in the story)
    5 - Serve the message, not the other way around
    Where you can purchase a copy of Fallen Sun, my second novel. Hidden Content

  10. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Tettsuo View Post
    Keep it real (with myself)
    Serve the message, not the other way around
    Can you elaborate on these two? Not sure I understand.
    "If you don't like my peaches, don't shake my tree."

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