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Other People’s Writing Rules

December 9, 2010

I’m full speed ahead on my web comic.  (For those of you just joining us, I held a poll to ask which of my scripts gathering dust deserved to be transformed into a web-comic.) It is a bit greater of an undertaking than I had assumed.  My ultimate goal, once I begin publishing,  is to release two complete story pages every week.  Sooooo, I’d like to have 8 weeks in the can before I put even page one up.  I’ve shown my wife some of the art, and she’s asked “What is that a picture of?……”  So I know I have   a bit more practice to do,  and in my defense the Ipad is a strange thing to draw on.  It is terrific for editing and retouching, but there is a bit more of a learning curve than I thought there would be.

Story – I’ve still got to work on that.  I have a script that is a few years old, but I’ve changed as a writer since working on this.  I need to make it episodic, and a few additional major changes.  I’ve mapped my plot points that I want to hit by issue 3, issue 6, issue 12, etc. But I have to get down to the nitty-gritty this week and plan my first issue panel by panel.

Of course while thinking about writing, I procrastinated and found an old email sent to me with Kurt Vonnegut’s rules for writing.  I then decided to search for other writers’ rules, and here they are:

In his book Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction, Kurt Vonnegut listed eight rules for writing a short story:

  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

I then went looking for Stephen King’s rules,  I know he wrote a book “On Writing” a few years ago, and realize I need to get around to reading it.  One of the main points he seems to make in it is:

Always be honest –

King says that every writer should always tell the truth. Put your story in the exact word as they come to you.  Don’t try to make it over intelligent if it didn’t come to you that way.  If you stick to your natural voice, it will show in your product.

And lastly, 8 rules from Neil Gaiman

1 Write.

2 Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.

3 Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.

4 Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.

5 Remember: 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.

6 Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.

7 Laugh at your own jokes.

8 The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.

Added Bonus:

Sketches from my new Ipad!

Concept art from the upcoming comic

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 10, 2010 8:30 am

    I recommend Stephen King’s On writing too, a really good book for any writer.

    I like this one a lot:

    Once you know what the story is and get it right – as right as you can, anyway – it belongs to anyone who wants to read it. Or criticize it.

  2. December 10, 2010 10:10 am

    good luck with your comic 🙂

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