Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Single Shot, No Chaser -- 7/28/2012

The very first version of this website, which I am fairly certain no one ever read--you owe it to yourselves to check out the archives, I left them there--included short little essays about writing, characterization, plot, and all of that.  Now I'm going to do more.

When a famous, even not so famous, writer talks about style, they tend to focus on crafting a natural sounding tone and method of expression that grows organically from the writer's deep rooted literary sensibility.  Basically, if you ever find yourself in one of those seminars, you get handed a copy of Strunk & White, maybe a Manual of Style or two, and told to figure it out for yourself.  While this is useful in its own way, it doesn't actually help someone trying to transform their flaccid prose into query-slaying priapic textual genius.  There does need to be a starting point, though, so for this first post, I'm going to share a few of my rules for writing, and later on, I plan on making fun of them mercilessly for your amusement.

* "You have to know what the rules are before you can break them."

* "Avoid conjoining conjunctions."

* "Present tense, active voice."

* "God hates serial commas, and so should you."

* "There is nothing that can be said in a thousand words that can't be said in a hundred."

* "If it doesn't make you laugh, cry, poop, or scream, and it's supposed to be entertaining, get rid of it."

* "Thought-provoking digressions are fantastic if you are sitting around a campfire high as a kite or if you are hanging out in a coffee shop looking to get laid, but otherwise, keep that shit to yourself and away from your manuscript."

* "The deus ex machina was invented in the days before Michael Bay started blowing things up and a kid in a garage could design decent sfx.  This is important: it was used because it was awesome, and you don't need it to be awesome anymore, all you need is more NPH."

* "Cliches are cliche for a reason, but that doesn't mean you should use them.  In fact, just don't.  Except in dialogue, if the character would."

* "By the same token, if a character would do something, don't stop them just because it doesn't make for good writing.  Being honest with yourself means letting someone drop a few more f-bombs than you would prefer, because the motherfucker fucking loves swearing."

And, I figured out that my list is longer than a single blog post, so we'll make it fun for next time.  More rules, and more commentary, and maybe even a few more pictures with funny captions.  I know the Internet loves humorous captions.  It told me so once.

No comments:

Post a Comment