Sunday, June 1, 2008

Creative A’s 10 Rules of Writing

 The other day I was at Barnes&Noble and I picked up a copy of Elmore Leonard’s book “10 Rules of Writing.”  The first few rules were good, but the rest didn’t seem that important to me. I started thinking about what I thought were the real top 10 rules of writing. And here they are.


Rule #1: Write every day.

Rule #2: Show, don’t tell.

Rule #3: Never use two words if you can use one

Rule #4: Write what you want to read.

Rule #5: Write what you know.

Rule #6: Don’t start a story with…

            A: A dream

            B: A weather report

            C: A really cool scene that has nothing to do with the rest of the story

            D: A coffee scene, where the MC drinks coffee and muses about his/her life.

 

Rule #7: Don’t write dialogue with…

            A: Lots of “said” modifiers like “softly” or “smilingly.”

            B: Lots of “said” replacements like “chortled” or “retorted.”

C: Lots of pointless action that makes your character sound twitchy – raised eyebrows, followed by a frown, followed by a grin, followed by rapid blinking; etc.

            D: Lots of exclamation points or questions marks, often clumped or mashed

up like this – “!?” “!!!” “???”

 

Rule #8: Focus on writing your story, not publishing it.

Rule #9: Get two kinds of betas – ones that will praise you unconditionally, and ones that will cut your story to shreds, because you need both.

Rule #10: Give your best now; don’t save it for later. Later will never come.

 

So what about you? What are your rules?


-Creative A

 

7 comments:

Suzanne Vincent said...

Write what you know.

What does that mean to you?

aaroncrocco said...

That is a really good list. Do you mind if I put that on my blog and link to here? I think all writers need to hear this.

David Isaak said...

I began my novel Tomorrowville with a dream, just because I'd always been told never to do so. The opening words are, "In the dream, he fell through the air until..."

What I think the rule really means is "Never open a book with something that is later revealed to be a dream."

Creative A said...

Suzanne: to me, "write what you know" means write what I've done, but also what is real to me. What I can imagine, fully, based on what my life experience. Does that make sense? I've never been robbed. But I've heard noises in the night and walked down dark pathways and gotten all jumpy with adrenaline, so I can imagine it. In that way it's real to me.

Aaron: sure thing, and thanks! I'm honored.

David: you have a very good point there. I think the main problem with opening with a dream is not the dream itself, but the fact that most dreams A) have little to do with the rest of the story, or B) get the reader all excited, then upset, when the realize the tension was false. So yeah. I think dreams are OK as long as they do something for the story.

utopianfragments said...

nice. intersting to see what someone will think of as rules. i cannot say i think too much when writting, it is more uncontroled act.
thanks for showing some of your thoughts behinde the writing, i like that.
dhyan

Creative A said...

Hey Dyhan, welcome :) I try not to think of the rules too much when I am actually writing; it's in the rewriting that they come into play for me.

-CA

Creative A said...

Hey Dyhan, welcome :) I try not to think of the rules too much when I am actually writing; it's in the rewriting that they come into play for me.

-CA

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