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three rules

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palmer



Joined: 30 Mar 2004
Posts: 1324
three rules  Reply with quote  

Some "way famous" writer (I thinkit was Somerset Maughm) said, "There are three rules for writing a novel; unfortunately, no-one knows what they are."

On either or a serious or a light-hearted note, what would yours be?

Post Fri Apr 15, 2005 8:49 am   View user's profile Send private message
Regina



Joined: 02 Mar 2005
Posts: 952
Location: Northeast U.S
 Reply with quote  

Get The Hell Out Of Your Own Way! (that's number one. write first, edit later)

Coffee, exercise, and rock and roll are your friends.

Finish what you start.


Do I have to limit myself to three Wink

Post Fri Apr 15, 2005 9:02 am   View user's profile Send private message
y



Joined: 22 Mar 2005
Posts: 3858
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My old HS english/creative writing teach used to tell us the secret to being a great writer is to: write, write, write.

One of my friends used to tell me that he ability to turn out work decent enough to pay the bills was: coffee, smokes, & liquor

Take your pick I guess... Wink

Post Fri Apr 15, 2005 12:00 pm   View user's profile Send private message
palmer



Joined: 30 Mar 2004
Posts: 1324
my guesses  Reply with quote  

1. Tell the story.
2. Let the writing serve the storytelling.
3. If anything goes wrong, go back to rule #1.

Post Mon May 09, 2005 9:29 am   View user's profile Send private message
Lauren



Joined: 07 Mar 2004
Posts: 1582
Location: Massachusetts
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1. Read. Read, read, read. See how authors you like write, and learn from them. (Stealing that and badly paraphrasing from either Neil Gaiman or our own esteemed Author Guy, but I can't remember who said it first, or if both of them have.)

2. Show, don't tell.

3. Write every day, no distractions. James D. MacDonald (an author in the sf community for whom I have immense respect) calls it "Butt in Chair" time - two hours a day, minimum, and editing or tweaking other stuff doesn't count toward that. These two hours have to produce new content.

(Well, I think I've done 1 and 2 pretty well, but oh, am I a bad girl when it comes to number 3.)
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Post Mon May 09, 2005 12:03 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website AIM Address ICQ Number
sgt_steve



Joined: 18 Jan 2005
Posts: 5197
Location: Michissippi
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Robert Heinlein came up with these rules in 1947. Not being a writer I can't vouch for them either way, but he was certianly sucessful.

    1. You must write.
    2. You must finish what you write.
    3. You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
    4. You must put the work on the market.
    5. You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.

Post Mon May 09, 2005 6:12 pm   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Ferrit Leggings



Joined: 29 Mar 2004
Posts: 2658
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Lauren wrote:
1. Read. Read, read, read. See how authors you like write, and learn from them. (Stealing that and badly paraphrasing from either Neil Gaiman or our own esteemed Author Guy, but I can't remember who said it first, or if both of them have.)

2. Show, don't tell.

3. Write every day, no distractions. James D. MacDonald (an author in the sf community for whom I have immense respect) calls it "Butt in Chair" time - two hours a day, minimum, and editing or tweaking other stuff doesn't count toward that. These two hours have to produce new content.

(Well, I think I've done 1 and 2 pretty well, but oh, am I a bad girl when it comes to number 3.)


I think you about summed it up.

I am bad with the last one as well.
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Post Mon May 09, 2005 6:16 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
lisa



Joined: 10 Apr 2004
Posts: 6789
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When I pick up a book I look at the following in this order.

1. Quality of English
2. Narrative point.
3. Energy and cheer from random conversation lines.

I suppose you could use that as by-lines. I don't really know.

I too think Steve has said the most valid thing.

Post Tue May 10, 2005 9:25 am   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
HRH Gracie



Joined: 29 Mar 2005
Posts: 39
Location: Virginia
 Reply with quote  

I have on my wall a quote:

"If you are writing a book, by God, let's move that sucker along"
anonymous

I think that is great advice or rule to follow. No matter how much i like the characters, if nothing is happening in the story, nothing is happening (a la Catcher in the Rye) and I don't end up liking the book. Now I know Millions and Millions of folks disagree re: J.D.'s little book; but you asked for our opinions.

So my rule is: Stories should be plot driven.

Post Tue May 17, 2005 2:25 pm   View user's profile Send private message
Ferrit Leggings



Joined: 29 Mar 2004
Posts: 2658
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There are many writers who get by without their stories being driven by plot. It mostly depends on the writer and the type of book being written. James Delingpole did it with his books Fin and A Thinly Disguised Autobiography. Hornby does to an extant. The plot is in the character development and the story. Sedaris does it in short story format and Eggers did it in A Heart Breaking Work of Staggering Genius. Sedaris can make a story out of going out to eat or vacuuming someone’s carpet. In their work the quality of English is always there. However Mark Twain got by with somewhat of a plot and poor English in Huckleberry Fin. I have read the political versions and the original of Huck Fin and although the original is harder to read with the southern dialect I would recommend it over a glossed version with easily to understand English.

My biggest nitpick is whether the story being told is worth reading to me. I know that I subjective and egocentric but as a reader I don’t want to spend my time of a beautifully written story that I don’t care about or a book with a wonderfully constructed plot and I don’t care about the characters. A good example would be Dan Brown’s popular book. You know the one that I am referring to. The Da Vinci Code, I tried reading it and heard many great things about it but I couldn’t get past the first chapter. It was boring to me. That doesn’t mean that it is a bad book and that people shouldn’t read it that is just my opinion.

Everyone has tastes that are different. That is why one way of writing is not always right. The best advice is to just write and write the way you want to write. Every thing is relative to what you as a writer want to write.

I guess you could say most of what I read is character driven rather than plot. A good character is hard to come by like in life.

ta


BTW: "If you are writing a book, by God, let's move that sucker along"
anonymous

Is a great piece of advice. I recall reading Henry David T's Walden and thought my brain was going to explode from description. My manta has always been Balance is Key to Life and Everything in It. You can always have too much of something or not enough.
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Post Tue May 17, 2005 4:55 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Tal



Joined: 21 May 2004
Posts: 1692
Location: Not Massachusetts
 Reply with quote  

Mine is "Shit or get off the pot."

I also have Chris' maxim about writing printed out and stuck to the wall since they both basically say the same thing but Chris' amuses me more. Smile
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Post Wed May 18, 2005 6:27 am   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Guest





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I can't imagine how I missed Chris's message on writting. Would you repeat it for me?

Post Wed May 18, 2005 7:40 am   
Tal



Joined: 21 May 2004
Posts: 1692
Location: Not Massachusetts
Soitenly  Reply with quote  

Anonymous wrote:
I can't imagine how I missed Chris's message on writting. Would you repeat it for me?


chris wrote:
Don't worry about it. If you're not writing, you're not a writer. You don't have any responsibility. No one cares whether you do it. It's much easier to feel better about not doing it than it is to do it. You can not be anything you want to be. Set your sights higher. Be a world champion marathoner who doesn't run, a pirate without a ship, a Conquistador who doesn't conquer.

Now, either turn off your computer and write with a pen, or disconnect your computer from the internet, if you must write on a computer. Disconnect the wire completely. Can't do it? Go not conquer Mexico then.

You're not procrastinating. You're fucking off. You're fucking off on the internet, which is fucking off that feels like doing something, but isn't. The internet and television are the enemies of writing.

I've told you guys a dozen times about checking into a hotel in Big Sur to finish Lamb. I picked a hotel that had no phones in the rooms, and no televisions. Guess why? I'm not being any tougher on you than I am on myself. It never gets easy. Never.

("But Author Guy, it's a lot easier when you know that you're going to get paid for it. Get published." Yeah? Ya think? You want to know that if you "procrastinate" that they'll take your house away? That make it easier?)

Notebook. Pen. Go somewhere. Park. Cafe. Pancake House. Notebook too slow? Really? How much you get written on your computer today?

And before anyone brings it up, no one feels your pain. No one gives a fuck. Especially in Ohio. You may find a few kindred souls in a forum or at a writers' conference, but most normal people have never met a writer and they think the idea that anyone could actually become a writer is just complete balderdash. You'd be much less foreign to them if you told them that you wanted to be a turtle. At least they've seen a turtle. Your family, your coworkers, your friends: don't care, think you're nuts. Especially in Ohio. (Go ahead, ask me how I know this?)

Notebook. Pen. Block of Time.

or

Paper Hat. Incan-English/English-Incan Dictionary. Map of Eldorado


Not therapy. Two words: Give Up

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Post Wed May 18, 2005 8:23 am   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
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