Rules of Writing

Specifics about craft, talent, technique, etc.
User avatar
RSchibler
Posts: 213
Joined: Thu Mar 30, 2017 2:53 pm
Contact:

Rules of Writing

Postby RSchibler » Wed Feb 21, 2018 6:13 pm

I was poking around and stumbled on Heinlein's Rules of Writing. I reread them occasionally, and have a handwritten version on one of my notebooks. (If you haven't read them http://sfwriter.com/ow05.htm is a link) Got me thinking, what kinds of rules and guidelines do you folks use? I have Heinlein's Rules on that notebook, sticky notes around my monitor (the two right now say "KAV cycle" and "Yes but No and") that graduate to wall notes if I use them enough wotf001 My wall notes are things like DF's seven judging elements, a character creation cheat sheet, and my framed honorable mention. What about y'all? Share your wisdom!
Trying to refute entropy with words.

Vol34: Q2 R, Q3 HM, Q4 R
Vol35: Q1 HM, Q2 R, Q3 pending

Blogging about my writing journey at: http://www.rebeccaetreasure.com/blog

User avatar
MattDovey
Posts: 397
Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2015 1:33 am
Location: England
Contact:

Re: Rules of Writing

Postby MattDovey » Thu Feb 22, 2018 5:03 am

Never self reject. wotf011
Golden Pen winner v32 (2016)
Stories | About | Facebook | Twitter

User avatar
morganb
Posts: 150
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 8:11 am
Location: Tiffin, Ohio

Re: Rules of Writing

Postby morganb » Thu Feb 22, 2018 5:09 am

Rules? Hmmm...I guess I've never really thought about rules before, or even guidelines for that matter. I did set two writing goals for myself this year though:

1) Enter WOTF every quarter
2) Submit two new pieces of flash fiction to professional markets every month

So far, so good on the first goal. That second one...? Not so much. We're halfway through February and I've only sent one story out so far, with another still in the works. I struggle to carve out time every single day (damn day job). Man, that would be amazeballs to take one out of every five years off just to focus on writing. But alas, kids gotta eat and go to the doctor every year (damn bills and health insurance requirements).

Then again, maybe I'd be published by now if I had set up some hard rules and guidelines for myself and been more disciplined years ago. Definitely something to think about.

~Morgan

PS
After posting this, I read the Stephen King quote in my footer and realized maybe I do follow a few guidelines after all:
1. Enjoy every part of the process
2. Lead with the imagination
3. Remember the difference between story-telling and writing
"If you can do it for joy, you can do it forever."
- Stephen King

Infrequent posts about this whole writing experience thing...http://mbroadhead.blogspot.com/

HM x 1
R x 4

User avatar
michaeljwyantjr
Posts: 162
Joined: Wed Jun 14, 2017 8:16 am
Location: Lost in the country, NY
Contact:

Re: Rules of Writing

Postby michaeljwyantjr » Sat Feb 24, 2018 12:01 pm

Hm... this made me think! I guess I do have a few rules I follow:
1. Outline in thirds (pantser here)
2. First drafts don't matter; follow that thread until it's dead.
3. Open each scene with a KAV cycle, no matter how short ( wotf011 )
4. Love your main character or no one else will.
4a. Make them flawed and careless and brave.
5. Keep dialog real, but not too real (leave out most 'ums' and 'uhs'). If someone would never say it, it isn't dialog.
6. Swear early and often.
7. Cut out most, if not all, curse words in first edit. ;)

I think I could keep going for a while now that I'm writing these down, but I don't want to leave an opus.
WotF Results:
  • R:2
  • HM:5
  • sHM:0
  • SF:0
  • F:0
  • Last: HM, Q2 v35
  • Pending, Q3 v35

LDWriter2
Posts: 3390
Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:59 pm
Location: Central Cailf.
Contact:

Re: Rules of Writing

Postby LDWriter2 » Sun Feb 25, 2018 9:25 pm

Hmm, I have gathered a few over the years. Use active sentences, not passive sentences, use all five human senses in every major scene and intro and make sure the MC is changed some how, usually but not always use Show not Tell.
Working on turning Lead into Gold.

Four HMs From WotF
The latest was Q1'12
HM-quarter 4 Volume 32
One HM for another contest
published in Strange New Worlds Ten.
Another HM http://onthepremises.com/minis/mini_18.html

pcmccollum
Posts: 87
Joined: Fri Oct 20, 2017 6:45 am
Location: Southern California
Contact:

Re: Rules of Writing

Postby pcmccollum » Mon Feb 26, 2018 7:32 am

MattDovey wrote:Never self reject. wotf011


This. You'll have plenty of people to tell you how much your work stinks. Don't be redundant. wotf001
V34-Q4: HM, V35-Q1: HM, V35-Q2: SF
---
“If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you'll never learn.” ― Ray Bradbury
Follow my attempt at 52 short stories in 52 weeks - https://phillipmccollum.com/52-short-stories-in-52-weeks/

kentagions
Posts: 289
Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2015 2:45 pm
Location: Saint Paul, Minnesota

Re: Rules of Writing

Postby kentagions » Tue Feb 27, 2018 8:30 am

When reading to critique a manuscript: Assume the manuscript is perfect the first read through.

I could lie, tell of the rules I really want to follow, but don't always. I like to plot, but have never plotted the same way twice, and sometimes not at all. I like to allow two weeks for a manuscript to rest before the first editing pass, but two weeks often enough shrinks to minutes. I want to do character studies on all of my main and secondary characters, but have done that once on a manuscript that remains unfinished after five years. There are a dozen other things I want to do, believe I should do and often do, but they haven't risen to the level of Rules of Writing.

The one rule I adhere to rigidly leads this note: Assume the manuscript is perfect the first read through. An intelligent human entrusted me with their dream. The story in front of me is their baby, a living thing that they are intimately connected to. They gave it to me with the hope that I will be as excited about it, feel as connected to it as they do. To write a word of critique before I've finished the entire story is to arrogantly assume that it has arrived broken, and that my almighty hand is the only one qualified to fix it.

The manuscript before me is not a rusted hulk in for repair. It is a shiny new prototype that I get to test drive.

User avatar
RSchibler
Posts: 213
Joined: Thu Mar 30, 2017 2:53 pm
Contact:

Re: Rules of Writing

Postby RSchibler » Wed Feb 28, 2018 10:07 am

These are all great.

Never self-rejecting is a huge one. Sometimes I wonder what I’m doing submitting to pro magazines at all, but if I’d never taken the chance, how would I know they wouldn’t buy it? Besides, by starting at the top, someday I WILL get a sale there. Same with WoTF. My Q4 last year was ambitious for me, had a lot of threads that didn’t really come together well. I worked as hard as I could on it, and then submitted it. When I got it back, I was a better writer and better able to work on it, and now that I’ve gotten it back again from Analog, I can take another look and see what I can do with it.

Similarly with the regular submissions. I was listening to a Writing Excuses episode the other day where they talked about this contest specifically having enormous value because it forces writers to work to a deadline and write new things instead of endlessly tinkering with old stories. Both really valuable skills to develop.

Re, enjoying it: I suppose I would stop if I really ever hated it, but I’m so determined to take this hard work somewhere that I’m worried less about enjoying it and more about establishing discipline and skill at this point. Of course, I do still enjoy it (most days) so that might be more of an issue as time goes by. I would guess pro writers run into it being WORK instead of joy.

Morgan can you extrapolate about what you mean by the difference between storytelling and writing?

Kent, I want to emphasize that I really love your point about critiquing. I’ll be doing that in the future. I tend to give my “initial thoughts” as I read, but I think your point that going into the story assuming (as we would in a published work) that any confusion is intentional by the author is really valuable. Only when we reach the end of the story can we then go back and unpack where we were actually confused/disoriented/lost and where the author had done it intentionally for good reason. Thanks for that.
Trying to refute entropy with words.

Vol34: Q2 R, Q3 HM, Q4 R
Vol35: Q1 HM, Q2 R, Q3 pending

Blogging about my writing journey at: http://www.rebeccaetreasure.com/blog

User avatar
morganb
Posts: 150
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 8:11 am
Location: Tiffin, Ohio

Re: Rules of Writing

Postby morganb » Wed Feb 28, 2018 12:26 pm

RSchibler wrote: Morgan can you extrapolate about what you mean by the difference between storytelling and writing?


You betcha! lol

This goes back to a quote I once read from editor Chuck Adams in an interview with Poets & Writers Magazine:

“To me, these are the two most important things: I want a voice, and I want to be hooked into a story. I used to joke that I was going to put a big sign over my desk that said, ‘Quit writing and tell me a story.’ I’m old enough to have started reading back when it really was primarily about stories: Edna Ferber and Daphne du Maurier and Mary Renault and Thomas B. Costain. These are writers you don’t hear anything about any more, but they were brilliant storytellers. They were also good writers, mind you, but they were BRILLIANT storytellers. They would grab the reader right away and just not let go. Today I’m seeing better writing than the writing in those books, but I’m not seeing better storytelling.”

I usually read a couple dozen novels a year, and I can say there have been many stories where the writing was only so-so, but the story was so awesome I was willing to overlook some of the glaring errors. Then there are those stories where there's nothing glaringly wrong with the writing, but the story was only so-so. Those were much harder to get through and not nearly as much fun to read.


~Morgan
"If you can do it for joy, you can do it forever."
- Stephen King

Infrequent posts about this whole writing experience thing...http://mbroadhead.blogspot.com/

HM x 1
R x 4


Return to “Writing: Craft, Talent, Technique”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest