JANUARY QUESTION: What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?
Oh… there are a couple. Some are just on the list because I’m a slightly obsessive person and knowing these “rules” makes me pretty annoying when reading over someone else’s work. But I have to say that the rule I genuinely wish I’d never heard is…
Write every day.
I know, I know it’s a good habit. It’s a good goal, but I beat myself up a little on the inside whenever I don’t meet it. The discouragement of not living by the rule outweighs the benefits of living by it successfully, for me. I feel weirdly as though I’m constantly competing against myself. That said, participating in NaNoWriMo has kicked me into a higher gear than usual lately and I do want to try and keep that up. Maybe just not mandatory every day.
And now, the rules I do appreciate but obsess over more than I should:
- Only use said, with limited variations such as whispered or yelled. Don’t get into “he grated out” or “she snorted” territory, because you don’t talk literally through your teeth or your nose. (I think the gist of this is something I picked up from Stephen King’s On Writing.)
- Use any “-ly” words as sparingly as possible because it’s telling rather than showing. (Also from On Writing.)
- Consecutive sentences and consecutive paragraphs should not start with the same word or phrase. (Not sure where this came from, but if I see two sentences in a paragraph start with the same words I start counting how many nearby sentences do the same. It’s exhausting.)
- If you have back and forth dialogue and then descriptions of what different characters are doing/thinking/etc., it goes in the same paragraph as what they’re saying. Someone else does something? Separate paragraph. (Not sure if this is real advice or just a thing I do. I can’t remember if I got it from anywhere besides just generally being a bookworm.)