Sunday, May 1, 2011

Writing Rules

Writing Rules, pun intended. On one hand, writing is a magnificent journey one can take without ever leaving one spot. On the other, there are rules to follow along the way. By self-teaching/discovering these rules, the road has been long and bumpy, but very enjoyable.

First, you may wonder how one teaches herself to write. There are basic rules, such as grammar and spelling, but there’s much more to learn about writing when you begin looking toward publication. These rules can be discovered within how-to books, reading others work, online browsing, critique partners, and of course classes.

Now, you may be wondering what sort of rules I’m referring to. Repetition of words and phrases, show, don’t tell, avoiding adverbs, to name a few. Most writers know these rules and most have learned to adapt them to their writing, right? As I step into the editing field, I’m discovering this may not be the case. Writing is more than creating a great story. It’s building easy, enjoyable reading.

Well, that’s the editor’s job, some may be saying. This may be true, but as a new writer, presenting your novel at top quality will allow those doors to open a little more easily. Do yourself a favor and learn the rules and adapt to them. Edit your work before sending it to a publisher and make the percentage of acceptance go up a notch.

I plan to go deeper into these rules and share with you what I’ve learned over the years in later posts. For now, I’ll leave you with a couple of consistent rules I’ve learned.

Rule 1: Learn the rules.

Rule 2: Learn when to break the rules.

Rule 3: Forget the rules.

Okay, I know Rule 3 may seem confusing, but when you write, forget all the pesky rules. Write from the heart and soul. Save the rules for editing and revisions.


Terry W. Ervin II said...

"Writing is more than creating a great story. It’s building easy, enjoyable reading."

Yes, it's translating that story to the written word. The quality execution of the idea.

And I agree, editors have a function, to help bring a novel up to the next level, but it's not their job to bring it all the way. There are already too many other mansucripts out there to consider. Only so many hours in the day. Accept the manuscript that is better written. Why double the load for the same result?

Anonymous said...

Terry, Thank you for your comments. As you said, a writer must present the best possible manuscript he can because if he doesn't someone else will get the editors attention instead.

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