Friday, June 10, 2011

Scott's 10 Rules of Writing

I was inspired by this article, in which many established authors took a tip from Elmore Leonard, and provided their ten rules of writing.  And, because I like to think of myself as a professional writer of some experience, I figured I'd share my top ten rules.  So, in no particular order, here they are, Scott's Ten Rules of Writing:

  1. Read everything you can get your hands on, especially the masters of your craft. 
  2. Write every day.  Set a word count goal and, come hell or high water, stick to it. 
  3. Avoid adverbs.  Words that end in "ly" are the bane of my existence, and are oftentimes redundant.  "He ran quickly...."  How many people do you know that run slowly on purpose? 
  4. Avoid redundant phrases such as "he thought to himself."  Well, unless he's psychic, of course he's thinking to himself.  
  5. Put yourself in the character's shoes.  How would you react in any given situation?  It gives you insight about how different or similar your characters are to you, and allows you to more fully understand your character.
  6. Write the story you want to read.  
  7. Find someone you can trust to tell you when your writing sucks, then marry them. 
  8. Laugh at your own jokes. 
  9. Be as childish as humanly possible.
  10. Give yourself permission to play. 
Bonus rules:
  1. No matter how good you think you are, your mechanics (grammar, spelling and punctuation) can always be better. 
  2. Beware the people who only say nice things about your work. 
  3. Money flows to the author, never away. 
  4. Never stop learning.
  5. Write barefoot, preferably with a dog or a cat curled up at your feet. 
That's it, folks!  Share your writing rules below, if you're so inclined!


  1. Avoid non-existent words like "oftentimes".

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