Six impossible things

Posts Tagged Da Rulez

Rules again

In the past two months, at least five different people have said something to me along the lines of “My teacher said/some professional writer said/my crit group says/I have observed [insert writing technique] is the rule for [insert writing problem or situation]. So is that a rule?” […]

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Adjectives and adverbs

Last week I was looking at web sites and found yet another one that advocated “Never, EVER use any adjectives or adverbs!” It went so far as to advocate going through one’s work and deleting all of them. So I decided to test that technique to see […]

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Characters and change

One of the current fundamental tenets for writing fiction is that in order to be a “good book,” the central character in the story has to change as a result of the events in it. If one attempts to question this “requirement,” one is informed that if […]

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Writing basics: Show and tell

“Show, don’t tell” has been basic fiction writing advice since Homer. It could be rendered less colloquially as “Dramatize, don’t summarize,” but either way, it doesn’t say “Show everything, tell nothing.” This leaves many beginning authors with two unanswered questions: 1) How, exactly, is showing/dramatizing different from […]

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Deteriorating quality…or not

The other day, I was talking books with a non-writer acquaintance who eventually got around to the perennial complaint about how Mr. Long-Time Professional Writer’s work has gone horribly downhill, paired with a certain amount of bewilderment as to how an experienced professional could ever make so […]

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Viewpoint switching, part 2

So, you have a story in which you have two characters in a scene, and each of them has information that you want your reader to know, and which you think (at least initially) that you can only let the reader know by being in that character’s […]

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Worst and Best Advice

“What are the three worst or best bits of writing advice you’ve ever been given?” Somebody asked me that a while back, and it took me a while to come up with a reasonable answer, because at least one of them was perfectly horrible advice for me…but […]

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Grammar, Syntax, and other Actual Rules

Spelling, grammar, punctuation, syntax. For a lot of would-be writers, they seem to be love ‘em or leave ‘em – which is to say, many of the folks I talk to have either an absolute slavish devotion to formal grammar, punctuation, or else a firm conviction that […]

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The Two Basic Rules

I’ve been saying for a long time that there are only two rules for writing: 1) You must write, and 2) What you write has to work. And I keep running into writers at opposite ends of the spectrum who really, really, reeeeeeaaaally don’t like that. The […]

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Weak and Strong?

One of the bits of advice that is often given to would-be writers is “Use strong verbs.” Apart from my usual allergy to rules and generalizations, one of the things that bothers me about this is that I’ve seldom seen anyone try to explain what it means, […]

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