Common Writing “Rules”

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  • #304619
    Gilroy
    Participant
    • Topics - 25
    • Replies - 146

    I want to resurrect my writing blog this year. And I think I figured out a focus for the posts. But I need some help.

    What are some common writing “rules” that get thrown at all writers?
    Things like — Don’t Use Adverbs. Only use Said as a dialog tag. Kill your darlings.

    Just need the rule itself so I can expound on what the rule is supposed to mean.
    Anyone able to offer some? 🙂

    #304620
    Magic Seeker
    Moderator
    • Topics - 89
    • Replies - 1,240

    Always write in first person.

    Never write in first person.

    Always / never write in present tense.

    Always / never write in deep POV / omniscient POV.

    I’ll keep thinking about it, but these are the first to come to mind. 🙂

    Happy writing,
    Deb Salisbury
    The Mantua-Maker, Quality Historical Sewing Patterns and Books
    www.mantua-maker.com

    The Art of the Hoop: 1860 - 1869, Dress, Sewing, and Clothing Care Advice
    https://www.mantua-maker.com/a---1860s-fashion.html

    Dead Wizard's Loot: Wizard Whitewing #1
    http://www.djsalisburybooks.com/Dead-Wizard-s-Loot.html

    #304621
    MarFisk
    Moderator
    • Topics - 570
    • Replies - 15,606

    Don’t forget the “said” rule is both a yes and a no.

    Others…

    Never use “that”
    Never edit (attributed to Heinlein but it’s not exactly what he said).
    Always outline.
    Real writers write every day.

    That’s all I can remember. Sounds like a fun project. Post your links so we can see it, please :).

    She remakes mechanical devices, and he dreams of becoming a steamship captain in The Steamship Chronicles. Book 1 is free in eBook.
    https://margaretmcgaffeyfisk.com/the-steamship-chronicles/

    #304715
    Ashe Elton Parker
    Moderator
    • Topics - 455
    • Replies - 9,389

    Don’t do minor edits as you write the story.*

    Finish the story *then* rewrite/edit.* (I came across this via a Writers’ magazine long before I met Zette, and was very happy to learn that though she abides by this rule, she doesn’t expect anybody else to, as the author of that magazine article seemed to.)

    If something comes up that will change the latter part of the book from what the previous half set up, continue writing as if the changes are already in place, *then* go back and fix it to fit the new ending.*

    Don’t cut words from an incomplete draft.*

    * These are all rules that invariably resulted in me trunking completed and incomplete drafts alike because I’d been told I *had* to finish something before fixing it, and it’s always been overwhelming to me to do that. If I try, I eventually just fizzle out on most projects, and that’s how I ended up with tons of incomplete first drafts when I was a new writer. If I do finish something without fixing/editing as I go, I never look at it again.

    You *must*/should *never* outline.

    Outlines should consist of only one or two sentences that highlight each scene, never more. (Another thing I came across in a Writers’ mag.)

    Show, don’t tell.

    Never use adverbs.

    “It’s a good idea to stop writing for the day in mid-sentence so that you will know how to continue when you get back to writing.”

    Write What You Know. (The *most* vague and useless bit of advice for a beginning writer, imho.)

    Getting a MA in Creative Writing is a must for a fiction writer.

    Literary writing is the only truly valuable fiction writing.

    Only hacks write speculative fiction/romances.

    *Serious* writers don’t write fantasy or SF, or romance. (I’ve always wanted to ask those who toot that rule how so many writers of spec fic and romance got published, if they *aren’t* serious about it. It’s not like they’re *accidentally* sending their manuscripts in to agents and publishers. What, do these people think spec fic and romance writers continually hit random keys and realize they completely unintentionally sent something off somewhere and go, “Oops! I just sent a copy of my newest manuscript to another agent! I’ve *got* to stop doing that or people won’t think I’m a *serious* writer!”)

    ****Gilroy, feel free to use my commentary on the various rules without attribution if you want. I’m sure I’m not the only writer to form similar opinions of these rules.

    .

    Ashe Elton Parker
    "Just love me, fear me, do as I say, and I will be your slave." ~ David Bowie as Jareth in Labyrinth
    ~*~
    Member since 1998.
    ~*~
    Look me up on Wattpad for some of my books!
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