Okay! Time to get into the post. This is last week's vlog that went live a bit too late, which is why it's only being put on my blog today. As always, the script follows the video, but if you choose that, you're missing an awesome Vader impersonation...
Show don’t tell. Never stop writing. Only write when you’re feeling inspired. Never start with a dream sequence. Never use a narrator. Never use prologues. Always plan ahead of writing. Never plan ahead. Edit as you write. NEVER edit as you write.
That’s only a small sample of the writing rules that one can get out there. And as you can see, a lot of it is contradictory. So what’s a writer to do?
In my sixteen or so years of writing stories, I’ve managed to develop a way to approach writing rules that makes it all… well… make a bit more sense. And since I’m awesome, I thought I’d share the tips with you.
Yes, I’m aware that this is a tip vlog about understanding tips, but there you go.
Let’s just get into it.
Tip #1: Before you even start researching writing, it’s a good idea to develop your own set of best practices first.
The truth is that it’s a mad, senseless writing world out there. It seems like every writer has “advice” out there, and as someone who’s been around the block, a lot of advice out there is patently bad.
Terrible. Terrible advice.
And if you go into your research armed with your own personalized knowledge of what already works for you, you’re not going to be confused into the dark side all that easily. *Insert Vader Breath Here.*
Seriously though. If you know what works and someone’s acting like you’re doing it wrong, you know to roll your eyes and disregard at will.
Which brings me to my next tip.
Tip #2: If someone’s trying to convince you that theirs is the only, best way… they’re giving you bad advice.
I don’t care what they’re saying. If they start off from the point of view that there is no other way to succeed at writing, you can’t trust the rest of what they’re saying. The guys that seem a bit hesitant, usually prefacing with a disclaimer of “I know other people do things differently and it works for them, but I find that…” usually are the ones that are worth listening to.
In particular, and this is a sad thing, there are some big names out there that try to sell themselves and their writing by making themselves seem like these literary geniuses that have the soul true knowledge to writing success.
DON’T LISTEN TO THEM.
Another bonus rule of thumb: If someone sounds like they’re talking out their arse, they probably are.
Tip #3: Understand why something is considered to be a rule.
Despite everything, some writers have a real, legitimate desire to help others, but because they’re not that experienced yet, they don’t quite understand what they’re saying. So their response is to come across as being dead certain about absolutes.
Never use adverbs.
Never start with dream sequences.
Never open with prologues.
Always do this.
Never do that.
The problem with subscribing yourself to these absolutes is that you’re actually limiting your own writing. But at the same time, those “rules” are there for a reason. So if you know those reasons, you’ll also know when and how you can bend the rules.
And that neatly brings me to my final tip.
Tip #4: Treat writing rules not as the x number writing commandments, but rather as guidelines.
As I said before, a lot of the “rules” out there are considered to be such for some really good reasons.
That does not mean you’re doomed to always follow them slavishly. You’re the writer. You’re literally the master of your own story.
And if you say that rule doesn’t apply to you, that rule doesn’t apply to you.
Just remember, though, that if veering off from the rules results in bad writing, your readers will kick your ass for it. So don’t be irresponsible either.
And that’s basically it for me. Next week, I’ll share my own list of off-the-beaten-path writing rules that you might find useful. In the comments, let everyone know, which writing rules do you often disregard?