Monday, July 18, 2016

One Rule To Ring Them All


It's Monday and suddenly I'm swamped with work. No time for anything deep. So I thought I would share with you the One Rule of Writing that Overrules All Other Rules.

The thing is that writing is not a single skill. It is a family of skills all of which result in superficially similar end-products. This means that no single piece of writing advice works for all writers. Write every day? Works great for many of us. Totally useless advice for others. Write from your own experience? Invaluable for some Not so great for people who write about zombies, alien planets, and serial killers. And so on.

So when a reputable source offers writing advice, keep an open mind. Try it. If it works, pat yourself on the back and put it in the tool box. If it doesn't, discard it without regret. It's still good advice. But it's good advice for some other kind of writer.

One piece of advice that's almost invariably true is this: Your characters have to interact with each other. Otherwise, no story. Invariably true. Almost.

I say almost because I advised someone on a story a while back and recently he shared with me his revised version. In it nobody interacted at all. That was, in fact, the point of the story. It worked. And there's no arguing with that.

So here's the One Rule: Anything you can get away with, you've gotten away with.

So endeth my sermon. Go ye and write better stories.


1 comment:

Kevin Cheek said...

Ah, but the trick is getting away with it. Perfect example: In some clever writer's Periodic Table of Science Fiction, over the course of 118 short-shorts, the clever writer broke almost every rule of writing. Mostly they worked, and when you consider even the less successful as parts of the whole, I find I enjoyed it all too much not to forgive the transgressions. You succeeded in getting away with it.

I try to write stories like that--heck in the three attempts I've made to write a Lafferty-esque story, my one attempt to ape Pinkwater--the stories fell flat, flatter even than the paper they were typed on (this was a while back).

Much easier blogged about than gotten away with. But without those who have the talent to flaunt the rules, SF would be dull and repetitive.