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Squibstress’s Rules for Writing

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I have only two rules for my own writing:

  1. Write what you enjoy.
  2. Never apologize for what you write (unless you’ve hurt someone needlessly).

That’s it.

Sure, there are lots of lists of rules from writers great and small, and reading and applying them judiciously will indubitably improve your writing, but the fact is, no one really knows how to write. They just do it, and through an alchemical combination of practice, skill, talent and magic fairy dust, they sometimes manage to create something wonderful.

That said, here are a few suggestions from other writers that I’ve found useful over the years and most of which I’ve ignored from time to time, generally, but not uniformly, to my regret:

"First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience."

Stephen King

“Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.”

Elmore Leonard

“Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.”

Ernest Hemmingway

“When people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”

Neil Gaiman

“Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.”

Elmore Leonard

“Keep your exclamation points under control.”

Elmore Leonard

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be as it should be.”

Mark Twain

“Read, read, read. Read everything—trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it.”

William Faulkner

“If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”

Stephen King

“Take a break.”

Stephen King

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."

Jack London

“Write in the third person unless a really distinctive first-peron voice offers itself irresistibly.”

Jonathan Franzen

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

W. Somerset Maugham
And my favorite:

“The story ain’t gonna unfuck itself.”

Chuck Wendig

So sharpen your pencils, get your butts in your seats, and, as Wendig would also say, art harder, motherfuckers.