Archive for February, 2016

My take on these wonderful rules

Rule 1: How hard a character tries counts more than his/her success.

I.e. it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all (Bill Shakespeare maybe?).

Rule 2: Make it fun for the reader, not fun for the writer. I.e. keep the reader in mind. I am sometimes guilty of that.

Rule 3: Themes are important, but they often aren’t apparent until the end of the story. Worry about theme on your rewrite.

Rule 4: Once upon a time…Daily…One day…Because of that and that…Finally. A story progression more for cartoons or picture books.

Rule 5: Keep it simple. Maybe even combine characters. If you stumble on something in your story, go around it, come back later(maybe). I heard it as KISS-Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Rule 6: What are your main character’s strengths? Throw the worst at them. Can they handle it? (I always heard it as ruin your POV character’s day)

Rule 7: Figure out the ending then worry about the middle. I’ve been told that at workshops.

Rule 8: Even if it’s not perfect, finish your story. Learn from it. What’s the prefect story look like?

Rule 9: When you get stuck, make a list of what won’t happen next. Hopefully the next step will appear.

Rule 10: Dissect the stories you like. Your story will be a part of you, but you have to understand it before you can write it.Rule 11: Don’t leave a story in your head, get it on paper even if it’s flawed.

Rule 12: Plot twists—don’t use your first idea or the second and so on. Surprise yourself.

Rule 13: Make your character strong, even opinioned, but never wishy-washy. (Charlie Brown had opinionated secondary characters)

Rule 14: Why do you have to tell this particular tale? If you don’t have a reason, maybe you shouldn’t.

Rule 15: You have to experience your POV character’s emotions, feelings etc. as if it’s really you.

Rule 16: Raise the stakes. If the character fails in the middle of the story, raise the stakes anyway.

Rule 17: Don’t throw away manuscripts that don’t work. Someday you find a need for them.

Rule 18: Do your best and don’t worry about failure.

Rule 19: You can use a coincidence to get a character in trouble, but not to solve their problems.

Rule 20: Exercise: Take a story you don’t like. What would you do to make it a good story?

Rule 21: You have to identify with your POV character. You have to understand why they act and say the way they do.

Rule 22: Do you understand the heart of your story? Is your story buried in your manuscript? I.e. have you overwritten?




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Some sentence types

Incomplete sentences: Good for emphasis. E.g. “No way!”


Simple sentences: Subject-verb-object, use once in a while. E.g. “He ate the pie.”


Interrogative Sentences

(writers need to vary the types they use)

Inverted word order: Verb first, usually yes/no question. E.g. “Are you going?”

Tone of voice: Rising pitch. E.g. “You are going?”

Interrogative word: , usually open-ended, usually wh- “Where are you going?”

Alternative interrogatives: choice of answers. E.g. “Should you go?”

Tag questions: declarative sentence with interrogative phrase attached. E.g. “You are going, aren’t you?”

Cumulative sentences

Cumulative sentence: Base clause + modifying phrase + modifying phrase etc. E.g. “The boy walked in, longing to see her, wanted to be with her, dying to kiss her.”

4 cumulative principles: 1) They are a process of addition 2) the sentences should give a sense of direction or movement 3) each word or phrase develops in a cumulative sentence & operates on different levels from the others 4) cumulative sentences give texture to a proposition (reason for a sentence)

4 types of phrases:

Participial phrases: participle is verb turned into an adjective. E.g. “hating his life” & “delighted with the pie.”

Gerund phrases: verb turned into a noun. E.g. “by eating” or “for cheating”

Infinitive phrases: “to find a job” or “to eat his dinner”

Prepositional phrases: “after eating pie” or “before finding a job”

4 types of suspensive sentence: [main clause at the end]

Inverted cumulative—cumulative sentences ending with main clause E.g. “His eyes inflamed, his body bowed, his words slurred, he was not the leader we expected him to be.”

Insert cumulative—qualifying material between subject & verb. E.g. “The old man, after saying his goodbyes, after waving to everyone, after refusing rides, walked home.”

Initial cumulative—conditional clause leads to complicated main clause. E.g. “If you see a grizzly, you look for a ranger, as quick as you can.”

Extended subject cumulative—initial clause seems complete. Start with infinitive or relative clause. E.g. “Even when the past excited me, even when history seemed important, I never forgot that the present was more important.”

Eights Mask2

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