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?