Christopher Moore Home Page

The bulletin board is currently closed to new posts. Instead, why not check out Chris' Twitter and Facebook pages?


bbs.chrismoore.com Forum Index -> So You Wanna Be a Writer?

Excellent tips from Writer's Digest

  Author    Thread This forum is locked: you cannot post, reply to, or edit topics. This topic is locked: you cannot edit posts or make replies.
chris
Site Admin


Joined: 02 Mar 2004
Posts: 3833
Location: People Republic of Northern California
Excellent tips from Writer's Digest  Reply with quote  

I agree with all of these, and when I put a book down I've been sent for comment, it's almost always because the writer broke one of these rules. I didn't know that before, because I didn't have all of these rules articulated, but they still apply. I suppose it would be an insult to send these to a writer whose book is coming out soon, huh?

-Chris


17 Writing Secrets
February 11, 2008
by Steven Goldsberry

One author shares his tried-and-true principles for making good writing better.

1. Never save your best for last. Start with your best. Expend yourself immediately, then see what happens. The better you do at the beginning, the better you continue to do.

2. The opening paragraph, sentence, line, phrase, word, title—the beginning is the most important part of the work. It sets the tone and lets the readers know you're a commanding writer.

3. The first duty of a writer is to entertain. Readers lose interest with exposition and abstract philosophy. They want to be entertained. But they feel cheated if, in the course of entertaining, you haven't taught them something.

4. Show, don't tell or editorialize. "Not ideas about the thing, but the thing itself."—Wallace Stevens

5. Voice is more important than image. "Poetry is not a thing, but a way of saying it."—A.E. Housman

6. Story is more important than anything. Readers (and publishers) care a lot less about craft than content. The question they ask isn't, "How accomplished is the writer?" but, "How good is the story?"

7. These rules, pressed far enough, contradict each other. Such is the nature of rules for art.

8. All writing records conflict. Give the opposition quality attention and good lines. The power of the the antagonists should equal that of the protagonists.

9. Shift focus often. Vary sentence structure and type; jump back and forth in time and place; make a good mix of narration, description, exposition and dialogue.

10. Be careful of your diction. A single word, like a drop of iodine in a gallon of water, can change the color of your entire manuscript.

11. Provide readers with closure. The last sentences of the novel echo something that happened earlier. Life comes full circle. "If I have a pistol in my first chapter, a pistol ends the book."—Ann Rule

12. By the end of the work, the conflict should reach some satisfactory resolution. Not always a "happily ever after" ending, but something should be finalized.

13. Revise, revise. You never get it on the first try. Art shows up in rewriting.

14. Avoid excessive use of adjectives and adverbs; trust the precision of your nouns and verbs. Verb form: the shorter the better. Avoid helping verbs and progressives. Avoid passive voice. Avoid cliche and stock phrases.

15. Be interesting with every sentence. Be brief. Hemingway's first editor at the Kansas City Star gave him this style sheet: "Use short sentences. Use short first paragraphs. Use vigorous English. Be positive, not negative." Hemingway later referred to that list as "the best rules I ever learned for the business of writing."

16. If you can be misread, you will be.

17. There are no rules for good writing. Those who break the "rules" successfully are the true artists. But: learn, practice and master the rules first. "You cannot transcend what you do not know."—Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Novelist Steven Goldsberry is a professor of English at the University of Hawaii and an instructor at the Maui Writers Retreat.

Post Sat Jun 28, 2008 12:40 am   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
leprrkan



Joined: 29 Jul 2007
Posts: 5089
Location: In the home stretch...
 Reply with quote  

Great rules, thank you for posting them.

The writer in question isn't Patterson is it? If it is it may be an insult... but like peroxide to a cut sometimes things have to hurt in order to help Laughing
_________________
"Jesus... is NOT a zombie... I shouldn't have to tell you that."

- "Bones"

Post Sat Jun 28, 2008 6:10 am   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website Yahoo Messenger MSN Messenger
18Rabbit



Joined: 21 May 2008
Posts: 1734
Location: WTF is wrong with you?
 Reply with quote  

I think Patterson always has a book coming out soon but I'm not sure he's literate enough to read this list.

Post Sat Jun 28, 2008 8:21 am   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
chris
Site Admin


Joined: 02 Mar 2004
Posts: 3833
Location: People Republic of Northern California
 Reply with quote  

leprrkan wrote:
Great rules, thank you for posting them.

The writer in question isn't Patterson is it? If it is it may be an insult... but like peroxide to a cut sometimes things have to hurt in order to help Laughing



No, mostly I get books from new or relatively unknown writers. (From their publishers, that is.) Best sellers like Patterson don't chum for jacket blurbs.

Post Sat Jun 28, 2008 9:15 am   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
urhangovergirl



Joined: 05 Feb 2008
Posts: 705
Location: center of the purple haze
 Reply with quote  

very well articulated!


now to apply them...hmmm Confused
_________________
I will gladly ravage you Tuesday for a ravaging today...

Post Sat Jun 28, 2008 9:39 am   View user's profile Send private message
IdiotCroissant



Joined: 04 Nov 2007
Posts: 46
Location: Washington State
urhangovergirl  Reply with quote  

That is what I thought.

I also thought that most writers probably think they have all those components even though they don't. How do you get writers to identify what is missing?
_________________
Is that Cheeto Spore?

Post Sat Jun 28, 2008 10:54 am   View user's profile Send private message
Sephonae



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 5218
Location: New York
 Reply with quote  

Thanks, AG, good stuff.
_________________
<=== Dressing in dismal chic and maintaining her detached aura of aristocratic chill since 1985.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"You can't wipe your ass with empty promises." - thread title, by walk

Post Sat Jun 28, 2008 7:16 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Laveric



Joined: 09 Feb 2006
Posts: 883
Location: Rochester Hills, Michigan
 Reply with quote  

Thanks AG!

I just have one I want to add, which has caused me more than once to put down a book:

Give the reader a reason to care about what is happening. While it is probably impossible to hook everyone with one book, at least someone out there should identify with the characters.

I have seen far too many books that eschew personal details about the characters to count. Each one I pick up makes me wonder why I should waste hours on this book. Sometimes I struggle through with anticipation of the revelation that will make this a book I love, but too often I find myself disappointed.

Post Sat Jun 28, 2008 8:23 pm   View user's profile Send private message
urhangovergirl



Joined: 05 Feb 2008
Posts: 705
Location: center of the purple haze
Re: urhangovergirl  Reply with quote  

IdiotCroissant wrote:
That is what I thought.

I also thought that most writers probably think they have all those components even though they don't. How do you get writers to identify what is missing?


If I had material to look through in order to find out what was missing, it would imply that I had at one time figured out how to apply at least some of these rules...which I haven't Wink

But I am going to send these on to a friend who had me read her excerpt for a book she wrote. I sent back feedback that told her to include at least a couple of these that she was missing, so i guess the best way is to get feedback from your target audience...
_________________
I will gladly ravage you Tuesday for a ravaging today...

Post Sat Jun 28, 2008 9:12 pm   View user's profile Send private message
chris
Site Admin


Joined: 02 Mar 2004
Posts: 3833
Location: People Republic of Northern California
 Reply with quote  

Laveric wrote:
Thanks AG!

I just have one I want to add, which has caused me more than once to put down a book:

Give the reader a reason to care about what is happening. While it is probably impossible to hook everyone with one book, at least someone out there should identify with the characters.

I have seen far too many books that eschew personal details about the characters to count. Each one I pick up makes me wonder why I should waste hours on this book. Sometimes I struggle through with anticipation of the revelation that will make this a book I love, but too often I find myself disappointed.


LOL, I just wrote this as one of my pet peeves in your other thread.

Post Sun Jun 29, 2008 12:36 am   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
zendao42



Joined: 05 Sep 2006
Posts: 13570
Location: Somewhere in a galaxy near you
 Reply with quote  

urhangovergirl wrote:
IdiotCroissant wrote:

That is what I thought.

I also thought that most writers probably think they have all those components even though they don't. How do you get writers to identify what is missing?


If I had material to look through in order to find out what was missing, it would imply that I had at one time figured out how to apply at least some of these rules...which I haven't Wink


Um, yeah- maybe this is why my writing sucks? Wink

Post Sun Jun 29, 2008 3:43 am   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
SkyVenom



Joined: 09 Oct 2008
Posts: 37
Location: San Pedro, CA
 Reply with quote  

Nice guidelines.
I agree that the author should have a connection with the characters. I hate when you read a piece of work thats great except... You know nothing about the characters! When theres poor descriptions and no detailed information about the characters, it makes me sad.
But hey, isn't that what an imagination is for?
_________________
"I'm the man who's always a step ahead. Like a carpenter... that builds stairs." - the office

-Skylr Ciolino

Post Sun Oct 12, 2008 7:42 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail AIM Address
  Display posts from previous:      
This forum is locked: you cannot post, reply to, or edit topics. This topic is locked: you cannot edit posts or make replies.

Jump to:  


Last Thread | Next Thread  >

Forum Rules:
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum

 
Templates created by Vereor and Ken