20 Rules for Writers

Here are 20 rules for writers, some of which I don’t necessarily agree with

No. 1 – Never open a book with weather – Agree (Boring)

  1. prologues1No. 2 – Avoid prologues – Disagree (I read them all and find them fascinating)
  2. No. 3 – Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue – Agree to a certain degree
  3. No. 4 – Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” – Agree, most of the time
  4. No. 5 – Keep your exclamation points ­under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. Bah – humbug. J.K. Rowling uses them by the handful – on each page
  5. No. 6 – Never use the words “suddenly”. Agree – within reason.
  6. No. 7 – Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly. Agree – it can become fatiguing quickly
  7. No. 8 – Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them. Agree completelygi-rhythm-episode
  8. No. 9 – Read it aloud to yourself because that’s the only way to be sure the rhythms
    of the sentences are OK = Agree
  9.  No 10 – Carry something to write on at all times. Agree – you never know when inspiration will hit
  10. No. 11 – If you’re using a computer, always safeguard new text with a ­memory stick – Agree – don’t be stupid
  11. No. 12 – If you’re lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page. – Agree. Doing nothing gets you nowhere
  12. No. 13 – Give the work a name as quickly as possible. Own it, and see it. Agree – it will bring your book alive
  13. No. 14 – Do change your mind. Good ideas are often murdered by better one. Agree, within reason. If you keep changing your mind, you’ll get nowhere
  14. brynn & indyNo. 15 – A problem with a piece of writing often clarifies itself if you go for a long walk – Agree, or sleep on it
  15. No. 16 – Never worry about the commercial possibilities of a project. Agree – your job is to finish your book
  16. No. 17 – Don’t write in public places. Disagree – Write wherever is right for you
  17. No. 18 – Keep a diary. Agree – if you don’t you’ll regret all those great thoughts or character you forgot to jot down
  18. No. 19 – Have more than one idea on the go at any one time. Absolutely agree – don’t depend on just one idea
  19. No. 20 – The way to write a book is to actually write a book. Absolutely agree – just do it.

*****

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Creative Writing 101 – Tues. afternoons April 12 – June 28 in Oakville

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