Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Rules of Writing Part 1: Code or Guidelines?

I have been thinking a lot about The Rules of Writing. There are a lot of rules, advice, guidelines, shoulds, should nots and so forth out there about writing fiction. Some I agree with. Some I think to myself "Really???...?" Still others I am on the fence about.

So - I thought to myself - Self, what are the real rules of writing. And myself replied with this:

The Rules of Writing

1. Thou Shalt Use Correct Spelling*
2. Thou Shalt Use Correct Grammar**

* - Exception: You may spell things improperly in dialog, but only if completely necessary.
* - Exceptions: You may use improper grammar in dialog, because let's face it - we don't all talk with the right grammar. Also, in the narrative this rule can be broken but only if completely necessary.

That's it. Those are the only two real rules of writing. And notice that even they have exceptions.

So what about all the other "rules" out there? Well, I think that they can be broken down into three different categories:

1. Best Practices
2. Personal Preference
3. Good Writing vs Great Writing.

I am going to do a series on my thoughts on each of these categories and which rules I feel belong in each one.

Would you add any rules to my list?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Wisdom from a Writing Conference: Plotting Like a Sports Car

Kiersten White presented on plotting at the LDSStoryMakers Conference:

What I Learned:

Every scene should move the plot forward. If it doesn't - cut it. Do not do anything, or include anything, that slows down the flow of the story - aka back story. Trust your readers to be smart enough to pick up on stuff without you explaining it to them.

Even small things can help with plotting - for example dialog tags should not draw attention to themselves. Be selective with what details you include.

How I Plan to Apply It:

Basically - practice. I plan to not worry about many of these things during the first draft. But - starting with the second draft I will analyze everything and make sure that everything moves the plot forward. Or it will be cut!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Eureka! or Rambling Solves Everything

Last night I asked my husband if he would be an Alpha reader for my current WIP. He agreed. And then he admit that he actually found my current WIP interesting - as opposed to my list novel which he did not enjoy.

I was ecstatic and told him that I like this new idea better too. I then started to ramble on about how much I love writing MG and how much more fun it is to write. How much I liking this new WIP better than Shadowed Stones.

And then I said something that surprised me (I often do that.)

I said: "I am thinking of re-writing Shadowed Stones to be Middle Grade."


Yes that popped out of my mouth before I really had time to process it in my head. And then I processed it and it was amazing!

I now have this flood of ideas on how to completely re-write Shadowed Stones and make it a million times better. I am so excited! But don't worry - my current WIP is still more interesting to me and so I will continue working on it.

Isn't it amazing how rambling removes the filter between your brain and mouth? Although usually that spells disaster for me - in this case it solved everything. Sigh. Yeah!

Has rambling ever fixed one of your problems?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Naming Woes

In my current WIP - I have a character that has gone through four or five names already. I am struggling to find a name that fits him and fits in with the rest of the characters and the story. Sigh. It is proving to be difficult.

So for now I am calling him - 'The Character Formally Known as Kade' - until I find a more suitable name. It usually is not this hard for me to pick out name for characters. Every time I think I have found the name - I start using it and then fall out of love with it. And then I am back to square one.

How do you pick names for difficult-to-label characters?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Write. Be. - Don't Get Bored

Write. Be.

When you get bored with a project - it will die a slow and painful death.

When a project dies a slow and painful death you will be discouraged because you failed.

When you become discouraged because you failed you lose confidence as a writer.

When you lose confidence as a writer very bad things happen.

Don't get bored with a project.

How do you avoid getting bored with a project? That's a good question. I don't know. What I do is as soon as I feel I am getting bored with a project - I shelve it. No project - no matter how exciting at the beginning - is worth losing confidence over. So I shelve it and move on.

Yes this means I can burn through a dozen projects in a few months. But in order for me to be successful as a writer I need to be interested in the project. This is probably a weakness I have as a writer but I am okay with that.

Embrace your weakness and either overcome them, or work with them. Turn them into part of your method.