2010-05-23

Ten Commandments For Writers

I

Thou shalt not sprinkle characters into a pre-conceived plot lest thou produce hackwork. In the beginning was the character, then the word, and from the character's words is brought forth action.

II

Thou shalt imbue thy heroes with faults and thy villains with charm, for it is the faults of the hero that bring forth his life, just as the charm of the villain is the honey with which he lures the innocent.

III

Thy characters shalt steal, kill, dishonour their parents, bear false witness, and covert their neighbour's house, wife, manservant, maidservant, ox, and ass for readers crave such actions and yawn when thy characters are meek, innocent, forgiving, and peaceable.

IV

Thou shalt not saw the air with abstractions for readers, like maidens, are seduced by particularity.

V

Thou shalt not mutter, whisper, blurt, bellow, or scream for it is the words and not the characterization of the words that must carry their own decibels.

VI

Thou shalt infect thy reader with anxiety, stress, and tension for those conditions that he deplores in life, he relishes in fiction.

VII

Thy language shall be precise, clear, and bear the wings of angels for anything less is the province of businessmen and academics and not of writers.

VIII

Thou shalt have no rest on the sabbath for thy characters shall live in thy mind and memory now and forever.

IX

Thou shalt not forget that dialogue is as a foreign tongue, a semblance of speech and not a record of it, a language in which directness diminishes and obliquenes sings.

X

Above all, thou shalt not vent thy emotions onto the reader for thy duty is to evoke the reader's emotions, and in that most of all lies the art of the writer.

6 comments:

Jamie D. said...

LOL - What a great list, Carol...we should all have this taped to our walls! :-)

C R Ward said...

That's exactly where I found it, taped to my wall. :-)

Dolly said...

LOL...excellent :-)

ralfast said...

Interesting, I really like the ones about direct and concise language. That is a must for all writers.

Genie of the Shell said...

Good tips! Thanks for handing these down to us.

Janna Qualman said...

Funny! Good stuff.

Thanks for your visit to my blog today. :)