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.
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!
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!!