Category Archives: Writing

COMEDY ISN’T PRETTY

Preliminary Explanation: This is the first article the author ever published on a blog, and it was before the word had been coined. It’s here as a lesson in writing humor, for inspiration, and because what the heck, we all need a break from serious study once in a while.

By Steve Fey

I went out this morning –

My Lexus was flat –

I been retainin’ water

And I’m feelin’ pretty fat!

Oh, Lord, I tell ya,

I don’t know what I’m gonna do:

I got the Suburban Cul-de-sac,

Big kitchen in the back blues!

I wrote this song about the world I’m living in. It’s a philosophical song. So, that makes this a column about music and philosophy. It’s a sad song, really. Most comedy is. You think Mark Twain wasn’t consumed by guilt over that cat and medicine incident? Yeah. That’s the was it is in the humor game. You feel pain. You ache. You belabor a point but it doesn’t help. It’s ugly. Comedy.

I went out last Wednesday –

Took a look at my lawn –

Crabgrass just took over:

All my bluegrass was gone!

All that poison fertilizer!

Who knew what it was gonna do?

I got those Suburban Cul-de-sac,

Badminton ‘round the back blues!

I feel guilty all the time. I’m guilty that I’m who I am. I confess. I’m me. I had an ancestor who landed in Virginia with Captain Smith. True story. And he was an idiot, looking for gold in a swamp. Think my ancestors ever supported the slave trade? Of course not. That’d make me feel guilty. Or maybe they were nasty to the natives? Never! Too much guilt. I can’t stand it. His name was Powell. Ever hear of an African American named Powell? Who got that name how? Life’s hard. Comedy is harder.

You think comedians have it easy? You think Chris Rock is kidding about growing up on the floor? Or Bill Cosby was kidding when he used to talk about his crazy father? No, they aren’t. If only you knew. Oh, we laugh and enjoy their pain because we don’t know. We don’t know. The blues may be the ultimate in comedic composition.

‘Bout a month ‘go last Tuesday –

I was feelin’ pretty good –

‘Til I saw who was movin’

Into my neighborhood!

They’re gonna lower

All the standardized scores down at my school!

I got those Suburban Cul-de-sac,

Covenants front and back blues!

But, it’s OK. I don’t need your sympathy, even if I am funny. Heck, funny people are tough! You try putting up with years of ridicule from schoolmates without laughing about it. Try being told by your teacher that you are “too much talk, not enough action.” See where that leaves you. Who’s talking now, fifth grade teacher George Kingsmore? Not you anymore, I’ll bet! So there! Life has its compensations. Scott Adams, who draws Dilbert, is nowhere near as rich as, say, Bill Gates. But he says what he means and wants to say, and he’s probably a lot richer than you or me. That’s compensation. That’s revenge. Yeah. We get what’s ours. Because it’s comedy. Because comedy is tough and dirty.

You may laugh at my story –

You may smile at my song –

But if you’re payin’ attention,

You won’t be smilin’ long!

There’s just no tellin’

Where this old world is goin’ to.

I got those Suburban Cul-de-sac,

Bad times are comin’ back blues!

The song quoted herein is Suburban Cul-de-Sac Blues, by Steve Fey, copyright 1998. Don’t even think of reprinting it without permission of the author! I’m a humor writer. I can be nasty. We all can be. See what I mean? I live in the suburbs. I’ve got a lawnmower, and I know how to use it. Life is tough. Guilt is everywhere. Comedy. It isn’t pretty.

 

Want more of Steve? You can check his blog at stevefey.com, or look for him on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

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Breaking the Rules: In Defense of Flying Body Parts

By Tami Cowden

I once attended a workshop that focused on sharper, clearer writing. The speaker discussed many common grammatical and word misuses, and offered lots of strong advice to improve writing. But there was one bit of advice to which I took exception, even though this advice has practically become a mantra among romance writers.

It had to do with the dreaded flying body parts.

I can’t count the number of times I have heard speakers tell a roomful of nodding writers “Eyes don’t drop, they don’t meet, they don’t fly across the room. Gazes drop, meet, fly, etc.” Everyone gets a good (embarrassed) chuckle at the exaggerated images painted by the speakers, and rushes home to removed the offending phrases from their own work.

Now, literally, these speakers, and their agreeable audiences, are correct. These things don’t really happen. Or, if they do, we certainly don’t want to be there to see it.

But why do we care about literal meanings? We write in the English language – why shouldn’t we use it in its entirety? In the English idiom, eyes DO meet. They do drop. They fly, dart and shoot across rooms, and sometimes even bug out of heads. What’s more, other body parts fly, rove, wander, and so forth, metaphorically, if not literally.

According to Merriam-Webster, an idiom is “an expression that cannot be understood from the means of its separate words.” There is absolutely nothing wrong with using one. Or even, in moderation, more than one. In fact, writers who write in English ought to have command of the language in all its richness.

We use many idioms in our speech and in our writing, with nary an objection from our zealous critique partners. For example, I have never literally “taken” a walk down the street – that would require me to somehow pick up a walk and transport it. But no one objects if my heroine takes a walk or ride across town. If my hero takes a plane to New York, I am not chastised for having my hero steal things that don’t belong to him. But just let me mention that his eyes traveling up the heroine’s legs, and boy, oh boy, will I get pounded by some well-meaning critiquer.

Sorry, folks, but the flying body part rule is one of those rules that really isn’t a rule – because frankly, it doesn’t make any sense. These expressions would make it past any grammar teacher, and, more importantly, past any reader who hasn’t been tainted by having someone sneeringly point out the literal meaning of the words.

Don’t believe me? Okay, I can understand your not wanting to take my word on this. But how about taking Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s words? Here’s a line from one of my favorites of her books, Nobody’s Baby But Mine: “He saw that Jane’s eyes were glued to his mother’s face, and he took in her stunned, happy expression.” (p. 322) When I read this story, I was caught up in the emotion of the moment. A horrific vision of the heroine’s eyes being removed her head and pasted to the face of the hero’s mother just did not enter my mind. And that’s true even though I read that book after my mind had been polluted by the dreadful flying body part rule.

Still unconvinced? Maybe Nora Roberts will be more persuasive. Here’s a line of hers from Homeport: “His eyes held hers, and were a dark, rich brown that took little drifts of gold from the sunlight.” (p. 70). You don’t really think anyone is going to read that and imagine one pair of eyeballs clutching another pair, do you?

If bestselling authors can having flying body parts, so can the rest of us. In fact, I am sure one reason (out of many!) that Susan and Nora are bestsellers is because they employ our language in all its rich forms.

When self-editing for clarity, the question to ask yourself is this – “will my reader misunderstand my words?” If the answer is yes, then change what you’ve written. But if there won’t be a misunderstanding, don’t change your words just because you worry that other writers will laugh at the literal image. After all, you are writing for readers, not writers.

So, in future, if you discover the line “their eyes met across the crowded room” in your work, go ahead and flinch at the cliché, but don’t worry that readers will imagine two pairs of eyeballs hovering just under the ceiling. That only happens when you’ve had the idea pointed out to you at a writing workshop. Most readers haven’t had that experience.

 

Like this stuff? Read more of Tami’s articles on her blog!

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Online Writing Communities Want You!

by Eric James Miller

 

GoodreadsWriting can be a solitary, even isolating endeavor. Carving out a set amount of time per day (or week) to write isn’t always easy and feeling “inspired” to write during that precious time is a gamble any casino odds-maker would bet against.

Plus, let’s face it, writers can be a prickly bunch.

Most of the time we just want to be left alone.

But a writer waiting around for inspiration to strike is idle folly. I know that I’ve been guilty of using the slightest excuse for not keeping my butt in the chair and hitting my daily word count goal. We all have our rituals and pet-peeves that we wrestle with as we struggle with our doubts and insecurities to get those pretty words on a page. Letting anyone into our sanctified, creative little worlds is a big deal.

Sometimes, to make progress we need to force ourselves out of our shells and find comfort in community.

It’s a hurdle every new writer must face. It’s a hurdle that can prove daunting even for seasoned pros.

One of the changes this fragmented, modern age has brought about is that if you’re a writer looking for a little compassion, a little support, advice, or yes, honest, constructive criticism, you may not find it at your local library, coffee shop or in your local Meetup group. However, there’s a real good chance that with a little digging, you’ll be able to find a robust and active online community of writers that not only has similar interests and goals as yours, but one that also synchronizes well with your particular (sometimes prickly?) personality.

If you’ve been to a writers conference or event that you connected with, even if it’s out of state and not near where you live, look to see who sponsored it. Many times they are sponsored, or at least co-sponsored by one or more writers groups. Shoot the organizer or contact person an email. Ask to join. If there’s a membership fee, ask if they offer a trial membership. Check it out. Give it a try. If you don’t like it, stick with it but start looking for a different group. Try not to quit one group until you’ve found another.

Writers of Southern Nevada has been a effective, though behind the scenes organization here in Las Vegas for the past three years. We have sponsored a writing conferences each year since 2011, one on memoir writing, one on the business of non-fiction and last year’s very robust two-day fiction writing conference at the Plaza. This year the WSN is changing it’s corporate bylaws and becoming a membership based organization (more on that coming soon!). Aside from sponsoring local author meet and greets, thematic readings, and co-sponsoring writer-friendly events with other organizations in Clark County, we’re inviting guest bloggers onto this blog to share their advice, thoughts on writing or the writer’s life. By expanding its presence and reach on the internet, the WSN is seeking to enhance,  enrich and work collectively to bring attention to the local writing community.

As a big fan and supporter of the Pikes Peak Writers Conference, I also personally recommend a small contingent core of writers from that conference that I had the pleasure of meeting two years ago. Aaron Brown and Chris Mandeville formed Delve Writing [http://www.delvewriting.com/] to help writers set realistic goals for themselves. They have established a versatile, interactive framework for not feeling alone and you don’t even have to live in Colorado to benefit from joining their group. Delve Writing, like many other online groups of writers helping other writers, is worth looking at whether you’re searching for inspiration, accountability, or how-to advice.

Another great resource is the Goodreads author program. [http://www.goodreads.com/author/program] There are over 100,000 authors that contribute to this forum in varying degrees. Fish around on the blog, the monthly newsletter archives and the Featured Author Groups, or be proactive and create your own author group if you can’t find what you’re looking for. You’ll be amazed at what you find and in a group that large you might even tip your hat to serendipity, because you may find something you didn’t even know you were looking for.

Another good group is the Google Group APE: Authors, Publishers, Entrepreneurs which centers around the eponymous principles outlined by Guy Kawasaki, Shawn Welch, Barry Eisler and others. You’ll need a GMail account to get started, but it’s worth setting one up even if it’s just to check it out. (note: please don’t ask me about Chrome!)

There are literally thousands of virtual writing groups online, and by virtue of Skype, You Tube, instant messaging and other handy electronic social media touch points, it’s easy to find one (or two!) groups that will probably work for you.

Gone are the days of writing in isolation, sending your unedited manuscript to a stranger in New York and having them turn you into a literary superstar. Newsflash: those “old days” only exist in myth and legend anyway. (Sorry J.D. Salinger and Jack Kerouac — I love your books, but role models for success you ain’t! :-)

The beauty of this electronic interweb we’re all connected to is that if you’re willing to look for something, you can probably find it.

But, choosing to participate is the first step and it’s purely up to you.

If you want to engage with other writers, interact with readers and reading communities, share your voice, learn and grow with other people that share the same interests as you, online writing communities want you!

They just leave it up to you to find them. As Lao Tzu said, “Every journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Louis L’Amour, the prolific writer of westerns, said it even better “There will come a time when you believe everything is finished; that will be the beginning. ”

As a writer, who do you turn to when  a new question, one you didn’t anticipate or think of before, pops up? If you can answer that in five seconds or less you are fortunate. If not, you may want to consider searching for and participating in an online writing community that’s right for you.

 

(Eric James Miller works as a freelance journalist in Las Vegas and is the President of Writers of Southern Nevada. He is the author of “The Metaphysics of Nudity” and the For Rent Mystery Series. Book 1 in the series, “For Rent: Dangerous Paradise” was released in 2013 and is available in bookstores and various online retailers. Book 2, “For Rent: Haunted Neon” is due out later in 2014.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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From Caedmon to Kindle

By Richard Warren

Over 1300 years ago a man tended the animals of a monastery located in Northumbria in what is now northern England or southeastern Scotland. His name was Caedmon and he would later go on to become a monk himself. Though thought to be illiterate, he created a nine-line hymn that was later recorded by an English monk known as the Venerable Bede. Caedmon’s Hymn is the oldest known work of Old English writing. The Old English period spanned about 700 years and approximately 400 literary works from that period have survived. Today that many books are published every 10 hours ‒ and that’s just in the United States.

Caedmon’s name may have been known but the vast majority of works in the medieval period were penned by authors who remain anonymous. Could you imagine pouring your heart and soul into a book and then not putting your name on it? Seems inconceivable today, but that’s how it was. That didn’t change until the mid to late 14th century. Geoffrey Chaucer ‒ considered the father of English literature ‒ probably did the most to change that. He is famous for his Canterbury Tales written between 1380 and his death in 1400. Writers from that time onward were rarely anonymous because writing had become a commercial venture that could actually be profitable.

The publishing world has always been changing. Back in the days of Bede books were duplicated by monks who were working by hand. In 1476 William Caxton brought the first printing press to England and set up shop. The first book he produced? Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The works were hugely popular and placed books in the hands of the common people rather than just the elite. English literature flourished and many writers such as Shakespeare, Milton, Coleridge, Locke, Marlowe, Dryden, and others made their mark.

The next major technological advancement occurred almost 400years after Caxton’s printing press with the 1860s invention of a commercially viable typewriter. This meant increased speed and productivity as well as the end of cramps from writing by hand. The next jump didn’t take as long and happened about 100 years later with the introduction of word processors that used floppy disks ‒ remember those? Of course, it was the introduction of the PC a short time later that allowed just about anyone to try their hand at writing.

The birth of the internet heralded the arrival of the digital age. The speed of change today is absolutely mind boggling. Watch a ten year old movie and you can marvel at the technology that isn’t there. Just as the printing press made the transcription of monks obsolete, the internet is causing a cosmic shift in the world of publishing. In the last decade many publishers have gone out of business, others have merged, yet many new ones are being born. Like a meteor killing off the dinosaurs, the publishers that don’t adapt to a drastic change in the environment will fall by the wayside. However, in any time of upheaval there is significant opportunity. That opportunity is there for the large presses that can adapt, for the mid-size house that can capture a greater market share, and the small presses that can prosper from new technology and the ever-growing pool of writers seeking to become published.

Lastly you have those who have chosen to take matters into their own hand and join the brave new world of indie publishing. That means you will not only be a writer, but an editor, marketing guru, promoter, and PR person. Whichever route you have chosen there are a host of new realities you need to deal with. Actually writing the book has become the easy part. Even if you are with a major publisher you are expected to do the lion share of the marketing. Your manuscripts also need to be clean and well edited because you can no longer count on a publisher taking care of all that. Let’s not forget social media. Caedmon didn’t have to deal with Facebook and Twitter, he didn’t have to maintain a website, and he certainly didn’t spend time updating his blog. But you have to do all that.

And you just wanted to be a writer!

 

Want more of Richard Warren’s prose? Check out his column in The Vegas Voice, or check out the writers’ group he’s organized right here.

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MAKING CARDBOARD SCENES SPRING TO LIFE

by Morgan St. James

There is nothing more boring to read than a scene with no oomph. Can you feel the surroundings, does your heartbeat skip right along with that of the victim or the woman in love? Or have you created a set of paper dolls in a cardboard house?

If you can’t feel the scene, it’s a sure bet that your readers can’t. So, what to do?

Start with thinking about the cover. Authors don’t have a lot of control over this aspect of a published book, because it’s in the hands of the publisher and/or art director unless they are self-published. Still, the cover is what communicates the wonders that are sandwiched between the front and back. Providing a concise synopsis and some physical descriptions help the artist to communicate with the reader.

The cover is a big help in setting the scene. For example, if it’s a funny book, does the cover say funny, or does it portray something entirely different? Although big name authors’ books will sell on the strength of their name alone, a compelling cover is invaluable for mid and small list authors.

Think of it as “framing” a mental picture

It certainly doesn’t stop at the cover. When creating scenes, frame a mental picture that includes surroundings, how the person sees it from their own point of view, mental reactions, weather, clothing…anything that helps flesh out the scene as though you are the production designer for a movie. That doesn’t mean to describe everything in minute detail, but put yourself in that person’s head. Picture being in those surroundings before writing.

If the scene is meant to evoke true emotion, does it?

Cardboard scenes almost read like technical manuals in a way. In other words they are generally incapable of touching the reader’s emotions. On the other hand, scenes that spring to life can trigger laughter, tears, excitement—whatever the scene was designed to do.

When I was writing some for my highly emotional book “Betrayed.” even though I knew the story, I found tears trickling down my cheeks as I wrote some of the intense scenes. I could feel my surroundings as surely as if I actually was the protagonist in Chicago in 1956. Others who read the book referred to tearfully reading parts of the manuscript.

Beyond surroundings that can be felt, make sure dimensional people populate your world of fiction.

When I was an interior designer working with model homes, I created fictional families to live in these homes, so I could design to their demographics. They had the attributes of the profile buyer the developer described and targeted, but they had also had their own quirks, desires, preferences and style. Maybe the husband was an avid golfer and the wife participated in charity work. The son was a car enthusiast and the daughter was a cheerleader. All of that was reflected in the surroundings I created with artifacts and memorabilia. The house was my palette for painting their lives.

How to create a realistic scene.

Imagine this: Tires screech as the driver desperately applies the brakes. The car skids on the rain slick street. Branches brush the windshield when the out-of-control vehicle jumps the curb. Can you feel it? If you were in that car, would you have time to notice things? Smell the burning of the brakes or feel the panic of loss of control. You better be able to if you want the reader to feel it.

Put yourself in the picture.

Play with being there. Write some sample scenes and share them with friends or fellow authors. Do they sing? Maybe they are over-descriptive to the point of being an information dump. Analyze, fine tune and learn. Pretty soon your readers won’t be able to resist turning the page.

Want More from Morgan? Check out her website here!

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Guest Bloggers Wanted!!!

We know that you like to write, otherwise why are you reading this? Here’s a chance to add to your publications list and see your name up in lights (well, teensy LED monitor lights at least.) Your byline here! All we need are five hundred (500) words on a writing related topic. This is non-fiction, but it could be about poetry, or about novels, or about publishing, or getting an agent, or Amazon.com, or whatever you have to say that relates to writing. Personal experiences would be wonderful! Let the world know how you got that agent! Tell them about how you like to pitch. Heck, tell them how you pitched the next Huckleberry Finn, if that’s what you’ve done.

It’s easy, too! Just send your article, as an attachment or in the body of your email, to me, Steve Fey, at the address stevefey@hotmail.com. Be sure to put WSN Article in the subject line of your mailing or I might miss it, and that would be a shame. Right now we’re posting two a week, but it would be great to have more, so come one and join the fun. Submit to the WSN blog today!

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Do You Need a Writers Group?

By Richard Warren

 

Stephen King once said that “writing is a lonely job.” It certainly is, just you and the pen or keyboard. Unless you are a true loner, it is important to have contact with other people regularly. Though any human contact is helpful, connecting with others who understand what you do can help you maintain your sanity. Fortunately most cities and towns have writers groups where you can socialize and network with other writers while you enhance your knowledge about various aspects of the craft and business of writing.

Groups range from a handful of writers meeting in a coffee shop to large national organizations such as the Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, etc.. Some groups may cater to a specific genre while others are more general. Some groups are great for those just starting out with others being geared to more experienced writers. Search for a group that offers what you are looking for, if you aren’t sure what that is go to different groups until you find one that feels right.

You will discover many different formats as you explore the groups. Some are created more for socializing and networking, others are geared toward education and will usually feature speakers on various writing related topics, groups exist that deal primarily with craft and writing techniques and still more focus on critiquing the work of their members. Attend the group or groups that offer what you need or want the most and see if they will be a good fit for you.

To get the most out of any group you should get involved. Offer to help out or join the volunteer team. This will allow you to get to know more people and increase your own visibility within the group. Being involved may also allow you to have a voice in the direction of the group. Your role in the group may also open doors for you in the local writing community as you become known as an active participant rather than simply a spectator.

Perhaps the most valuable benefit of joining a group is the connection you are able to make with other writers and people in the literary community. You may be able to find a mentor or a sounding board for your ideas and will probably make new friends. That’s why it’s important to feel comfortable and welcome in whatever group you choose. So find one or more local groups and join but remember, the more you put into it the more you will get in return. It’s a wise investment.

 

Want more of Richard Warren’s prose? Check out his column in The Vegas Voice, or check out the writers’ group he’s organized right here.

 

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Where Do You Find Stories?

By Diane Taylor

As a Las Vegas retiree who is also a free-lance writer, my job is to “pitch” stories to editors.  Where do I find stories about individuals in Las Vegas?  Sometimes in the most unusual places.

The nail salon on Mother’s Day was where I found a favorite lady of Las Vegas.  The nail person mentioned “Happy Mother’s Day” to me and because I am not a mother, I corrected her noting that if I am a mother, it would be to two beagles.

The lady in the next chair said something like, “Me, too”.  (Both of us were somewhat bothered at the assumption we were mothers…without asking….but I digress.)  The lady in the next chair and I started talking and I discovered she had a great life story –  early airline stewardess in the days where young women were single, of a certain weight and wore stockings with seams that had to be straight)., married three times, lived in Europe, cared for “the love of her life” during his final illness, now plays golf regularly with a new gentleman friend, is happy and positive, has a puppy…. and was past 80, but looked like 60.

Another time, I was playing bingo (for another story) and started talking with the middle-aged lady across the table.  She relaxes with bingo, she said, because she travels so much.  She didn’t look like a traveler, so I kept asking questions.  Turns out this woman was retired military and had started a consulting business inspiring young people to stay in  school, work hard, etc.  She did travel constantly, hired by big companies to speak to employees.  I never would have guessed. I lost at bingo, but got a story idea.

Las Vegas poker tables are another story hotbed.  Low-limit games are social, and the opportunity exists to chat with neighbors.  A man and wife at one table told me about their business, cleaning grease out of the traps used at fast food restaurants. They had a very interesting story as to how their business came to be, their philosophy of taking on numerous small businesses rather than one large customer and how they inexpensively recruit employees (Craig’s list).

Time spent at local entertainment venues on open mic nights introduces audience members to all kinds of possible stories.  Every entertainer has a story, even stories of overcoming serious illnesses to take the stage again.

I was in the waiting room at St. Rose Hospital when I met a lady waiting for a husband’s surgery results.  We talked, and I found out that in her 50s she discovered that the man she thought was her father wasn’t. Devastated at the news,  she then went on a quest to find out about her real father.  With the help of the Internet and many hours work, she discovered her real father had died, but she met and established relationships with two, now beloved, half sisters.

At the same hospital, I had lunch in the lunchroom when seating was at a premium, so I sat at a table with three other people.  I asked who they were and discovered they were hospital chaplains.  Knowing nothing about chaplains, I asked a few questions and was so fascinated that later, I pitched a story about chaplains at that hospital, and that, too, became a story.

Busy freelancers, of course, have stories assigned to them and also are given story recommendations from friends (and PR professionals).  But talking with strangers is also a great source.  And it’s fun, too.

My father was a great salesman.  He often said that most folks like talking about themselves.

All you have to do is ask.

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The Rules

“You must know the rules like a professional in order to break them like an artist.”

That quote is from Pablo Picasso. I figure that if he doesn’t know art, nobody knows art, so it is obvious from that sentence that the rules are important. But, what are those rules, exactly? And how do I go about breaking them?

Let’s start with what the rules are. I have a set I follow. I’ll bet you do too. Tell you what I’ll do. I’m about to list my rules, so I’ll list yours as well. There is a link at the bottom of this post. Click it to send me a copy of your rules. No joke here, I intend to post other people’s rules here as well, with whatever attribution you provide. That’s at the end. Right now, on to My Rules.

      1. Only write stuff that you want to read. This seems obvious, which is why it took me a lifetime to figure it out. Plenty of others have said the same thing, in so many or more words. Trust me, this truly is Rule #1. But it begs the question, why do you want to read something?

 

    1. Know why you like a story. This is obvious even to me. Here’s what I think, generally, makes people like a story.
        1. Because it’s a good story

     

          1. The protagonist is likeable, a regular decent sort of person.
          2. The protagonist wants something, not something unreasonable in the grand scheme of things, just something, anything really.
          3. The protagonist goes after what he or she wants.
          4. The protagonist gets into unbelievable trouble trying to get it, almost killed, maybe.
          5. The protagonist almost goes under, but in the end he or she triumphs and there’s a happy ending.
      1. Just because you like that sort of story

       

    1. Show, don’t tell your story.

      1. Feelings, goals, motivations, conflicts, actions, history, well everything.
      2. If you don’t get that, read more. A lot more. And get a critique partner or three.
    2. The use of passive voice is to be avoided at all times.
    3. Superfluous modifiers are just really very bad.
    4.  

    5. Everybody is an expert on comma use, so you don’t have to be.
      1. One, two, three, and four is how a proper Brit would write a list. That third comma is the famous “Oxford comma.”
      2. One, two, three and four is how Americans list. No Oxford comma.
      3. Every other rule about commas has advocates for and against its use. So, see above.
    6.  

    7. Always observe proper grammar, spelling and syntax. Or perhaps I should write that it is perfectly to know proper grammar, spelling and syntax. The last sentence adheres exactly to conservative rules of English construction. It sucks, as you can see. So I break that rule virtually all the time and write line such as “the rule is to perfectly know . . .”. Because, of course you can split an infinitive! It consists of two words, you twit! But I know the rule about split infinitives, and how to avoid them, well, perfectly? Okay, as closely to perfect as my sloppy self can get.
    8.  

    9. Use a critique group, beta readers, whomever you can to read your work before you publish. If you write romance, have people who like to read romance do the work. If you write mystery, get mystery fans to read it and critique it. If you write, well, you can probably see where this is going. A group of professional writers, which includes professional writers who have never been paid for writing yet, doesn’t have to consist of people who all write one genre, or even all who write fiction or non-fiction. It should, however, consist of people familiar with the rules.
    10.  

      Those are my rules. But there is one overriding rule that trumps every single one of them. It is:

      Write a Good Story or Article and People Will Read It

      If you’re a writer, you’re an artist. Like Pablo said, an artist breaks the rules. So, what rules do you break? That’s a little vague. What I mean to ask is, what are the rules of writing according to yourself? You can click right here to email me your set of rules. A Word format document would be excellent, or a plain text document, but I can work with a PDF or anything that my computer can display (highlight, copy, and paste, don’tchaknow? I truly will post your list of rules, so make them good. And entertaining, if possible, since I am of dubious maturity. If you’d rather leave them as a comment, please feel free to do that as well.

       

      Want more of Steve? You can check his blog at stevefey.com, or look for him on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

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Dothraki, Anyone?

I just read an interesting article from Mental Floss about the creation of the Dothraki language for the televised version of Game of Thrones. Since writers all love languages, I thought I’d put a link to that article here. There is a society for the creation of languages, even. Enjoy!

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