Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Eight Commandments of Writing

Sometimes we get caught up in our own writing that we forget about our audience. Guilty as charged! I’ve done this a couple of times. It is okay to sit down and write your story at once (you don’t want your muse to take a nap on you), but don’t forget that you have a responsibility to your reader. Even if you finish your poem, short story, or novella in one sitting, you cannot neglect the most important (and grueling, may I add) part of the writing process. Editing! I have to reiterate what I’ve mentioned in one of my previous post: edit, edit, edit till you can’t think anymore. That’s why I want to share with you Steve Berry’s eight rules of writing:

1. There are no rules. You can do anything you want as long as it works.
2. Don't bore the reader. You can bore the reader in a sentence, in a paragraph, by misusing words, poorly choosing words, using the wrong length, etc.
3. Don't confuse the reader. Don't misuse point of view. Don't do too much at once.
4. Don't get caught writing. Don't let you, the author, enter the story. (E.g., "And he never would see Memphis again." How would anyone other than the author know that the character would never see Memphis again?)
5. Shorter is always better. Write tight. It makes you use the best words in the right way.
6. Don't lie to the reader. It's OK to mislead, but don't lie. If you say the character's motivation is A and it turns out to be B (and you haven't foreshadowed it at all), the reader will feel cheated.
7. Don't annoy the reader. Don't use names that are hard to pronounce or write choppy sentences throughout the entire book. It keeps people from getting close to your characters.
8. You must tell a good story. Bad writing can be forgiven with a good story. A bad story with the most beautiful writing cannot.

Although these are essential points to keep in mind when writing, they are not written in stone. I’d like to add my personal point: #9 Let your heart be the pen to your next great story. I hope this inspires you to write your next masterpiece.

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