N-7 The Only 12 1/2 Writing Rules You'll Ever Need
The link above goes to a poster I found to be particularly interesting. I am having trouble posting it here, but if you follow the link, I promise there's not a virus or pr0n. :)
There definitely are rules for writing, and this poster contains some particularly good ones.#5. Resist stereotypes, in real life and writing.
Stereotypes make for boring writing. Example: Eskimos are stereotyped as wearing parkas, hunting with harpoons and having seals for friends as children. How much more interesting is it when you give a character who might have a stereotypical background and give them something that makes them unique? Give your characters uniqueness--I had a play I worked on where a mother-daughter pair were quite involved with their church--but because of a near death experience they shared together, they came out with two different views of the event--the mother became interested in voodoo and the daughter began to view herself as a Catholic nun. Every person--indeed, every character--is unique, and therefore should be viewed as a unique person--outside of our experiences with others who might be similar.#6. Writers read. Writers read a lot. Writers read all the time.
Oh, great, you're thinking. Now not only do I have to have a writing practice and stick to it, not only do I have to write 75 pages in a month while balancing everything else, but NOW I have to READ on top of it? Well, yes. And most of you probably already are voracious readers. If you aren't already, you might want to cultivate this habit as well. But don't feel like all you have to read are plays if you are a playwright. READ EVERYTHING! Some of my favorite writers are not playwrights. Ray Bradbury, Natalie Goldberg, Margaret Atwood, J.K. Rowling, Christopher Moore, Pablo Neruda--I love them all, and I have learned a LOT from all of them. Read a variety of kinds of writing--and yeah, even the bad stuff has value.#7 Make lists of your favorite words and books and places and things.
When I was in Senior Seminar at the University of Iowa, my instructor, John Cameron assigned us a research paper. This wasn't just ANY research paper. He was going to give us a list of topics based on a list we would compose--of things we thought were beautiful. My list included frogs, going out dancing with my girls, purple, lilacs, Queen, good conversation, when the writing is on and you are going hot with your work, Harry Potter...and he brought me to two things: R.U.R. by Carl Kapek and The Scarecrow by Percy Mackaye. I don't know how he figured these things out, but they were both right up my alley. So make lists. Lots of lists. Ray Bradbury suggests this--Natalie Goldberg suggests this--both for similar reasons--to overturn the rich soils of your mind, to paraphrase Ms. Goldberg. You might just find patterns in these lists you weren't expecting.
This was only part of the poster--each rule is at least something to think about. Are there rules for writing that keep you going? Feel free to share!
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