The First Rule of Writing

Tom sat down to write.  His mind filled with nothingness.  No thoughts, no words, nothing.  He stared at the page.  No words were on it.  He did not know what to write about.  He then wrote that.  I have nothing to write about.  Nothing.  Blankness, darkness, a hole with no end.  He thought that looked pretty good, so he added to it.  A hole of incomprehensible infinity.  Down this hole many a man had come, only to realize the answer to why they had come moments before it was too late.

What is the First Rule of Writing

What is the first rule of writing?  The first rule of writing is to write.  It is as simple as that. If you never start you will have no need to learn any of the other rules of writing!  That being the case, everyone will come to a point when they break this first rule and do not know what to write next.  The solution for you breakers of this rule (pretty much every writer) is very simple, which is how you know it is immensely insightful  😉  Write about a pencil.

A Pencil

A pencil.  Problem solved no more writer’s block, end of story, or beginning of story, for those without a beginning.  Now this does not literally mean to write about a pencil, though it could be.  The point is to write anything, the writing does not even have to relate to the last sentence or the story in general.  The purpose here is to get in the flow of writing.  There is a theory that any movement, even if that movement is in the wrong direction, is better than no movement at all, this being based on the thought that it is easier to change direction than it is to go from a dead stop to a state of motion.  That may not be true in all situations – lost in space with limited fuel – but it is better to make some decision then sit down and do nothing as your space ship eats at the fuel reserves anyway over the days, and weeks, and months.

Going back to the pencil, here is an example:  Character A is in the middle of a major surgery.  You run out of things for him to do, you cannot figure out the next line, so he picks up a pencil.  Now he can do anything.  Maybe he had lost it before, or maybe he sees the only way to stop the blood flow is with the pencil, or his daughter gave it to him, it is an alien pencil with special abilities, it is an alien pencil with no abilities (placebo effect).   Once you get the character in motion (picking up a pencil), even if the motion has no previous reference or significance, it is easier to move the character from the wrong direction to the right direction than to go to the right direction from a dead stop.

The Second Rule of Writing

The only other rule I advocate as a must is this:  write so that others can understand what you are striving to convey.  Writing is a form of communication, if no one understands what you’re saying you are just being silly.

The Guidelines of Writing

There are some other good rules to follow, but I view just about everything else as a guideline.  My reasoning on this is what I can the William Shakespeare Initiative.  The William Shakespeare Initiative is when Shakespeare would change the spelling of the same word in the same story.  Why?  Because he needed it to sound different to keep iambic pentameter.  Now, sure, spelling rules may not have been so consistent back then, but they are not 100 percent consistent today either.  There are still multiple ways to spell some words correctly (honour or honor?).  So if William Shakespeare is a model writer and he did as he pleased, I say so should we also do as we please (within reason).

Now here’s my opinion on some good guidelines to follow.

Don’t began a sentence with a number written as a symbol (i.e. 400).  It looks bad.

Don’t put smiley’s in your blog (see second paragraph)

Don’t write numbers directly next to each other (24 7 pointed stars)

Use the same tense throughout the work (past or present not both)

I like short sentences, but do not be afraid to write long sentences, even Hemmingway had some long sentences and he was known for being short and to the point

If it’s terrible, keep writing.  A lot of good work comes from terrible beginnings.

 

Those are some short and simple guidelines to follow.

What are some personal guidelines you like to use when you are writing?

16 thoughts on “The First Rule of Writing”

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