Angel Martinez’s list of Do’s and Dont’s

There are rules for everything. If a thought or activity has been around for more than 30 seconds then there is bound to be a complex set of guidelines to “insure” that no one does it “wrong.” And while most rules help keep life running smoothly, there are some things that can benefit from a more relaxed “wing it” approach.

Here is Angel Martinez to talk about the pitfalls of rigid and intimidating writing rules, and how to encourage writers to create.

Da Rules

I know. I kid around a lot. Making people laugh is my way of dealing with crushing shyness (right, right, I’m not supposed to call it that anymore… it’s social phobia or social anxiety. Whatever.) I tell people I write both kinds of fiction: Science Fiction and Fantasy. I’ll make jokes about writers being processing plants for coffee and alcohol where the byproduct just happens to be words.

But seriously? (Quiet. I do have a serious side.) Writing’s deadly serious business for me. I won’t be so drama-princess as to say it saved my life, but at a time when I worked for evil, heartless banks at an upwardly mobile “career,” (read “ever-increasing paycheck is supposed to make you happy”) I felt my own heart dying, flaking off one calcified bit at a time. In a fey act of desperation, I began to write again. My heart recalled why life was beautiful and what was important.

I only say this to stress how vital writing is to me. Yes, the voices in my head will devour me if I stop, but it’s more than self-preservation. This is why I either laugh hysterically or stare blankly when confronted by “Da Rules.” The How To Be A Writer Rules, of course. Everyone has advice. Everyone just knows his or her way is the only way. Everyone is convinced that the way he or she sees a genre is the “correct” form for that genre. Fine, all right. I exaggerate, not everyone. (Surely all the people reading my post are lovely, intelligent, incredibly wise people who know better. *nods*)

Some of the rules?

Men can’t write Romance
Women can’t write anything but Romance
Authors must outline plots
Cheating has no place in Romance
Genre authors must not write over an eighth grade reading level
Use a thesaurus
Don’t use a thesaurus
Never use a preposition to end a sentence with

There are piles of rules, stacks and heaps, on how to learn to write and how to improve your writing. Do this. Don’t do that. Take this course. Read this treatise. Follow this plan.

It’s kind of like diets. They all sound sensible and helpful in theory but many fail in practice because of limited scope and draconic strictures.

Rules? There are two. Yep. It’s all you need. Yes, you need to know your own language, its structure and flow. Yes, you need to understand the connotations of words and the power of words. We will assume, since you wish to write, that you come with some of this basic knowledge and that you are an avid, voracious reader. Those things should already be part of you. The two rules?

1. Write. Seriously. I’m not being facetious. The only way to learn to write is…to write. (Apologies to Ray Bradbury.) Stop saying you will or you want to – just do it, darn it all! The more you write, the faster your writing will develop.

2. Don’t write in a vacuum. I don’t care if you have twelve PhD’s and can recite the entire Bhagavad Gita. If you’re writing, you need input from other writers and/or readers, even if it’s just one trustworthy, wise, experienced soul. Don’t be a walking ego. Every writer has things to learn. I’m going to say that again. Every writer has things to learn. Be humble, be open-minded, be aware of what you’re trying to accomplish, and you will learn.

That’s the lovely thing about writing. You should never stop learning. It’s a never-ending stream that floods us and sometimes overwhelms us but the writer is helpless in the face of the deluge and has no choice but to return and drown again, growing and expanding outward with each plunge.

Oh, heck, yeah. It’s a weird life but we’re writers, stalwart and steadfast. Someone has to brave the weird stuff to keep the general population safe.

Erotic Fiction for the Hungry Mind – Angel Martinez writes fantasy and science fiction, featuring gay heroes. Her work currently lives at Amber Quill Press and Silver Publishing.

Now let’s see who’s paying attention…for a chance to win an ecopy of the new Science Fiction Mystery, Sub Zero, please answer the question after the blurb and pretty cover art:

Major Aren Dalsgaard’s newest assignment is to investigate a series of murders on the frigid planet, Drass, where relations between the Treaty settlers and the natives have taken a nasty turn. A linguist and trained xenologist, Aren should be the ideal Special Investigations officer for the assignment. So what’s the problem? Drass is where he died, more than a hundred and twenty years ago.

Sent by his family to the chigyel city, Nyachung finds himself confronted with a murder charge, racial prejudice, and a cryo-revived investigator who claims to be a hero from his grandmother’s generation. Major Dalsgaard could be crazy or he could be lying, but the sincerity in his spring-green eyes disturbs Nyachung more than anything else he encounters in the foreigners’ city.
Confronted with mysterious black boxes and a beautiful yet evasive young man as a prime suspect, Aren hopes he can solve the murders before his fierce sexual attraction to Nyachung gets the better of him.

To win a copy of Sub Zero and join Aren on his strange journey, please comment below and tell me the most outrageous writing rule you’ve ever come across. Good luck and I’ll see you all at GRL!
~ Angel

Open until Saturday, October 6th. Winner will be chosen and notified on Sunday.

Another day without my camera, but a winner has been randomly selected. Congratulations Urb!!


15 thoughts on “Angel Martinez’s list of Do’s and Dont’s

  1. Vicktor "Vic" Alexander October 4, 2012 / 10:25 am

    I was told that with every book, even if it’s in a series, you have to reintroduce every character and remind the readers of what happened in the previous books because apparently (and I’m quoting here) “readers don’t remember things that happen in books before.” -Nods- Yes, seriously, someone told me that. Craziest thing that I ever heard because I can tell you everything that happened in any book I read , I may not get exact details right but I for damn sure remember characters and plots. -sigh- People are special.

  2. Andi Anderson October 4, 2012 / 12:47 pm

    Great post, Angel! I totally agree with everything you said. The more we write, the more we learn, and quite frankly it’d be scary to think our craft was nothing but perfection! LOL! Being humble about our writing was a great point. It’s hard to see people be critical of our baby, but it’s also a the nature of the beast. If we want to continue to evolve, it’s something that all writers must go through. Having thick skin and a positive attitude is a must, even though sometimes it can be harder than hell to have it!
    *Hugs* Have a great day:)

  3. Jbst October 4, 2012 / 12:49 pm

    I don’t know if it’s a rule, but it’s been said/thought by some people that women can’t write gay romance well, since they are women.

  4. Mathilde Watson October 4, 2012 / 12:58 pm

    Okay, Angel. Here goes.
    “Contractions are distracting and confusing. ONLY use them in dialogue and only then if ABSOLUTELY necessary!”
    How is that for off the wall?
    (Oh, and look! NO CONTRACTIONS!)

  5. Angel Martinez October 4, 2012 / 3:49 pm

    Vicktor – that’s a wonderfully random one, love it!
    Jbst – grrr, yes, that’s one we hear STILL. Amazing.
    Hi Andi! Thank you for dropping by!
    Mathilde! Ha! Yes – I love the ones where Absolutes are involved (the non-vodka kind…)

  6. Giselle October 4, 2012 / 4:22 pm

    Sorry, writing and I don’t get along…… that is why I read!!!

  7. Urb October 4, 2012 / 4:30 pm

    Like Giselle, I’m more of a reader than a writer. (I believe reading is active and participatory!)
    Until recently, I was in academia, which features some of the absolutely worst writing you can imagine. One dumb rule: try to “fill a hole in the scholarship.” Look for something no one else has written about. The dullness and obscurity of some of the topics used to make me cry as I peer reviewed.

    I think I’ll try some fiction writing to clear my palate! Because fiction is what I love to read. 🙂

  8. Renee October 4, 2012 / 9:01 pm

    (Surely all the people reading my post are lovely, intelligent, incredibly wise people who know better. *nods*)
    Uh huh! *nods* 🙂
    I don’t know about any of the weird writing rules, I’ve always had trouble with verbs though.
    I’m also more of a reader than I writer, but they say the same thing for drawing and painting. Practise, practise, Practise!

  9. Michelle (MiMi) October 4, 2012 / 9:03 pm

    ‘Write what you know’ seems pretty outrageous to me. There would be a lot less books in the world if everyone had followed that rule.Hobbits or vampires anyone? chellebee66(at)gmail(dot)com

  10. Trix October 4, 2012 / 9:59 pm

    I read one just yesterday: “Avoid writing scenes featuring meals; put them offstage, as you would depicting characters going to the bathroom.” Wonder what all the food memoir writers over the years would say to that?


  11. Penumbra October 5, 2012 / 2:45 am

    The craziest thing is something I tell myself. There are already so many good writers out there in writing land that actually know how to write. I don’t want to end up being a mediocre writer that rehashes the same old themes in a boring fashion. I don’t think I really have a writing gene that compells me to write. That’s why I don’t write, I read and critique instead.


  12. Angel Martinez October 5, 2012 / 5:54 pm

    OMG – Trix! How absurd is that! (especially when writing erotic fiction or even science fiction – meals are a cultural experience and often a sensual one – sheesh)
    Giselle, Urb, Renee and Penumbra – We are NOTHING without readers! You guys are so, so vital to the publishing world – keep on reading on!
    Hi Catherine! *waves madly*

  13. Angel Martinez October 5, 2012 / 5:58 pm

    Michelle – you are soooo right. Why would I want to write about a middle aged average mom with a soul crushing job? bleah. Now there is something to be said about not writing about something of which you have NO knowledge – that can get embarrassing. But in the world of Fantasy, it’s your world. You get to make the rules 😀

  14. mantasticfiction October 7, 2012 / 11:17 am

    Congratulations Urb … you won! I will be contacting you directly to claim your prize.

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