I AM RE-POSTING THIS FROM WRITER RAE MEADOWS, WHOSE BOOK MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS COMES OUT IN MARCH. I THOUGHT IT WAS RIGHT ON THE MONEY AND WORTH SHARING WITH YOU GUYS.
I’m not getting much writing done these days and sometimes I worry about having lost the ability. If I start thinking too much about the process, it all seems impossible. But I keep a list of things to remember—rules, I guess—which usually helps get me in the mood to write. I hope other writers might find some of these to be useful reminders, too. In no particular order, my top twenty.
1) Write a book you’d like to read.
2) Find an author you admire and learn from their plots, structures, and characters.
3) Finish the day’s writing when you still want to continue, so you have somewhere to start the next day.
4) A writing problem often clarifies itself in sleep, in the shower, or on a walk.
5) Beware of clichés at every level: expressions, set-ups, reactions, etc.
6) Use the verb “said” for dialogue. And stay away from adverbs modifying “said.”
7) Avoid going into great detail describing places and things. It’s usually boring.
8) Read dialogue aloud to yourself. This is the only way to hear the rhythms of speech.
9) If you feel very proud or attached to a turn of phrase, you’ll probably need to cut it.
10) You can never read your own book with objectivity. Show your work to a trusted friend.
11) When people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, listen to them.
12) Give your work a title as quickly as possible.
13) Don’t overwrite. Cut out the metaphors, similes, adverbs, exclamations points and flowery language, wherever possible.
14) Editing is everything. Learn to be ruthless, even if it means cutting the first chapter.
15) Pace is essential. Think about books and movies you like.
16) Don’t be afraid to change your mind.
17) Be honest with yourself.
18) Be persistent.
20) Write. Writing is the one thing you can count on to make you a better writer.
(This post originally appeared here: http://raemeadows.com/writing/rules-for-writing/ )