Where do people get these ideas?

Home Forums Main Lobby The Main Board Where do people get these ideas?

Viewing 14 posts - 1 through 14 (of 14 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #202112
    zette
    Moderator
    • Topics - 581
    • Replies - 887

    I’ve seen some very strange things said about writing lately:

    1. Writing first person is a cop-out.

    2. Never write a character of a gender other than your own.

    3. Real writers never write more than one book a year.

    4. People who don’t write short stories first never become good novelists.

    5. Writers ALWAYS (X, Y, Z) and NEVER (A, B, C) — fill in any number of things and often one group has just the opposite set of the other.

    These people obviously don’t think. They apparently don’t read anything either or pay attention to specific authors.

    You can make just about anything work for you. So don’t let someone dictate, and if you find people saying these things, remind others that there is no one way for anything writing-related.

    #241766
    MarFisk
    Moderator
    • Topics - 572
    • Replies - 15,626

    Put an “I” in front of all of those and they are probably 100% accurate for the person saying them. However, every writer is different, requires a different combination of techniques, etc. I like this group of “should”s enough that I put it in my interesting links last week: http://www.ilona-andrews.com/blog/2015/07/16/no-rules/

    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/

    #241770
    zette
    Moderator
    • Topics - 581
    • Replies - 887

    The unfortunate part is that most of these come as an “I was told that. . . .” conversation. I am amazed at what a lot of new authors are being told, but there are times when I also wonder if the new authors have read books. Some of them are so obviously wrong that I wonder how they can believe it.

    #241772
    MarFisk
    Moderator
    • Topics - 572
    • Replies - 15,626

    You’d be amazed how easy it is to add “well that person is allowed to break the rules because they’re already someone. You’re just a noob :p.”

    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/

    #241773
    astropolis
    Participant
    • Topics - 21
    • Replies - 100

    I think it comes down to this: Rule Zero, which cometh before all other rules, and thou shalt not have any other rules before it, is this- Thou shalt not annoy thy readers.

    Every construction in every language exists because it works for something, and in the right place it does a good job. In the wrong place it doesn’t.

    What happens is that people writing about the process of writing notice that there are common errors, and try to create rules to avoid those errors. They usually fail.

    I know this from bitter experience as I quite often critique other people’s SF. One indicator of how bad a piece is going to be is how soon I find the first verb in the pluperfect tense, and the number of pluperfect verbs in the first paragraph. This is the sort of thing I mean:

    A message from Mary had arrived for Jim. He had come to to Alpha Cygni, where the colonists had built a new city, because the Earth government had subsidised his passage. But now she had found him again.

    Basically the writer is using a number eight shovel to get all the backstory into one massive infodump so that he can get on with the plot.

    It would be easy to write a rule that said, “No pluperfect in the first three paragraphs.” If I did it would stifle a writer who has a perfectly good use for the pluperfect at the beginning, such as, “Gladys woke up wondering where her false teeth had gone without her.” Also I’d get stories which began with three paragraph of filling and had the infodump in the fourth.

    My point is that you can’t make rules for the creative process, because the process will use the rule as raw material to get around the very rule you are trying to enforce.

    #241767
    J.A. Marlow
    Moderator
    • Topics - 311
    • Replies - 1,101

    So many people looking for ‘rules’ to help them along…

    Thing is, with writing, it’s whatever works for that SPECIFIC writer. Sigh. So long as the story is finished and is a good story, then it’s all good.

    Kill the writer rules! :P

    J.A. Marlow
    The String Weavers, Salmon Run, Redpoint One series.

    Writer alter-ego of Dreamers Cove

    #241812
    J.A. Marlow
    Moderator
    • Topics - 311
    • Replies - 1,101

    Okay, now I want someone to write a story with the first line of: “Gladys woke up wondering where her false teeth had gone without her.”

    What adventures did the false teeth get up to? The suspense is killing me!

    😆

    J.A. Marlow
    The String Weavers, Salmon Run, Redpoint One series.

    Writer alter-ego of Dreamers Cove

    #241819
    Weird Jim
    Participant
    • Topics - 131
    • Replies - 420
    J.A. Marlow wrote:
    So many people looking for ‘rules’ to help them along…

    Thing is, with writing, it’s whatever works for that SPECIFIC writer. Sigh. So long as the story is finished and is a good story, then it’s all good.

    Kill the writer rules! :P

    Nah! Kill the reader instead. I don’t know why, but it’s just as good a killing the writer.

    During the night the false teeth had possessed themselves of a set of spectacles that worked and now they grinned as they watched Gladys’ frantic search.

    When I get around to it I’ll link to a set of rules that made a best selling novel 1,300,000 sales in the first year. (There’s a bit of a catch, though.)

    #241768
    Michael E. Walston
    Participant
    • Topics - 38
    • Replies - 182
    zette wrote:
    I’ve seen some very strange things said about writing lately

    I don’t mind if people make grandiose pronouncements on the internet as long as they at least attempt to defend their position.

    It ain’t a hard concept to grasp, peops… If you’re laying down a rule for others to follow you have to be prepared to justify it. If you want to discourage folks from writing in first person, for example, you must give some sort of reason, however lame:

    Stories told from one POV are boring

    Well, there are 3rd person stories told from one POV, are they boring too? Cite examples, please.

    Well, never mind… Anyway, you should never write a story from the POV of someone from an opposite gender!

    May I ask why not?

    Because you should only write what you know!

    Maybe I just want to explore my feminine side? Anyway, following your logic, if you haven’t traveled in time or space you shouldn’t write science fiction? If you haven’t ever been a murder suspect (or a murderer) you shouldn’t try to write a mystery?

    Wow, you sure like to twist things around. Are you writing more than one novel a year? Because you really shouldn’t do that…”

    Why not, may one ask?

    Because it takes a full year of editing, rewriting, and give and take between author and editor to create a polished novel.

    Okay, I know it sounds lame. but there are exceptions to every rule.

    Just saying…

    #241820
    Gilroy
    Participant
    • Topics - 25
    • Replies - 146
    J.A. Marlow wrote:
    Thing is, with writing, it’s whatever works for that SPECIFIC writer. S

    I would add to that: Whatever works for that SPECIFIC writer and that SPECIFIC PROJECT.

    #241769
    Gilroy
    Participant
    • Topics - 25
    • Replies - 146

    When I start hearing responses like this, I start trying to find the source that the writer found these “rules” from. 99 times out of 100, I’ve found they come from someone who has 1 book on the market and that think they are now publishing royalty because of it. Of the five writing groups in my area (that I know of), we have two people with one or two books on the market that lord it over everyone else in the group.

    They also tend to say if you don’t write things “EXACTLY AS I DO” (caps added to mirror their emphasis) then you are a horrible writer and will never get published.

    I tend to sigh and walk away from those groups.

    #243122
    zette
    Moderator
    • Topics - 581
    • Replies - 887

    What I see is relatively new writers looking for easy answers and wanting some rules they can follow. They also don’t want to look stupid in front of other writers, so they latch on to anything they can to limit the choices.

    Now add to that the idea that you must make a presence for yourself on-line before you even publish, and you have a disaster in the making. People are told to get a blog/journal and write about writing. They don’t know enough yet to post their own ‘rules’ and they often feel too uncomfortable to talk about their own process for fear that they might be wrong. So people start grabbing any ‘rule’ they find because they just simply don’t know better yet.

    #243126
    Gilroy
    Participant
    • Topics - 25
    • Replies - 146

    I don’t always hear these from new writers, though. I hear them from anyone not having “success” as a writer.

    Of course, when they claim they have no “success,” I always ask what their idea of success is.

    The response: Make tons of money and live like Richard Castle. *shudder*

    #243157
    Weird Jim
    Participant
    • Topics - 131
    • Replies - 420
    Gilroy wrote:
    I don’t always hear these from new writers, though. I hear them from anyone not having “success” as a writer.

    Of course, when they claim they have no “success,” I always ask what their idea of success is.

    The response: Make tons of money and live like Richard Castle. *shudder*

    Having tons of money or the equivalent is the only badge of success on this world — other than for the few people who fall into it in other ways.

Viewing 14 posts - 1 through 14 (of 14 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.