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Ever since I began writing I have
been told how to do it. There are rules on how to begin the story, what to have
in the story, how to end the story. So I have listed some of the rules I have
Here are a few Don’ts.
Don’t assume there is any single path or playbook
writers need to follow.Don’t try to write like your favorite
writer. Don’t worry about whether you should outline or not, whether you should
write what you know, whether you
should edit as you go along or at the end. Don’t ever get complacent about the basics: good spelling,
healthy mechanics, sound grammar. Don’t
ever write to satisfy a market trend or make a quick buck. By the time
such a book is ready to go, the trend will likely have passed. Don't try to
follow some set plot formula. Don't put
in a lot of fluffy, unimportant stuff that the reader is going to skip.Don’t ever assume it will be easy.Don’t ever stop reading.Don’t be afraid to give up … on your present manuscript.
Sometimes, a story just doesn’t work. But,
don’t ever give up writing. Writers write. It’s what we do. It’s what we
have to do.
Here are some Do's.
grab the reader's attention at the beginning by establishing the protagonist,
the setting, and the mood. Do have everything in a story caused by the action
or event that precedes it. Do have the story about a person who wants something
but cannot get it. Do have a vulnerable character, the right setting, and
meaningful choices. Tension is at the heart of story and unmet desire is at the
heart of tension. Do create more and more tension as the story continues by
having setbacks, crises, and antagonism. You won't have a story until something
goes wrong. Do have the protagonist making a discovery that will change his
life by the end of the story. Do the writing first then worry about inserting
breaks and chapters.
Here are some rules on
the personal side.
Don’t spend your time waiting to hear back from an
agent or publisher. Get to work on your next book or idea while you’re
querying. Don’t get mad at someone for
the feedback they give you. No piece of writing is perfect. Don’t forget to get out once in a while and
enjoy the other parts of your life.
Here are a few dubious
rules, which I have seen broken in many best sellers.
open your book with weather. Don’t have a prologue. Don’t use any other word
other than said to carry dialogue. (I
personally find it very boring to read said
all the time. How does the reader know if the character is angry if he says
'said' instead of 'shouted'? "Get out of here." can be said softly,
said through clenched teeth, said angrily, shouted). You need to show emotion. Don’t
use an adverb to modify the word said.
(see last statement) Keep exclamation points to a minimum. (Again see above).
Avoid detailed description of characters, settings and objects.
And now some quotes
about writing from famous writers.
road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.”—Philip Roth
a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful
illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by
some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” —George Orwell
“We are all apprentices in a craft where no
one ever becomes a master.”—Ernest Hemingway
secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his
mind, is written large in his works.”—Virginia Woolf
“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent
in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one
it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it
may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt
the sound and rhythm of the narrative.”—Elmore Leonard
Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.”—Larry L.
“There are no laws for the novel. There never
have been, nor can there ever be.”—Doris Lessing
means the right word. The rest matters little.”—Jules Renard
is to forget all styles.”—Jules Renard
do not over-intellectualize the production process. I try to keep it simple:
Tell the damned story.”—Tom Clancy
“Don’t expect the puppets of your mind to
become the people of your story. If they are not realities in your own mind,
there is no mysterious alchemy in ink and paper that will turn wooden figures into
flesh and blood.”—Leslie Gordon Barnard
“Plot is people. Human emotions and desires
founded on the realities of life, working at cross purposes, getting hotter and
fiercer as they strike against each other until finally there’s an
explosion—that’s Plot.”—Leigh Brackett, WD
first sentence can’t be written until the final sentence is written.”—Joyce
your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of
excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials
is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.”—Stephen King
“You do not have to explain every single drop
of water contained in a rain barrel. You have to explain one drop—H2O.
The reader will get it.”—George Singleton
I say work I only mean writing. Everything else is just odd jobs.”—Margaret
difference between the almost right word and the right word is … the difference
between the lightning bug and the lightning.”—Mark Twain
say, ‘What advice do you have for people who want to be writers?’ I say, they
don’t really need advice, they know they want to be writers, and they’re gonna
do it. Those people who know that they really want to do this and are cut out
for it, they know it.”—R.L. Stine