Comment below with your answer!
Today’s post comes from Jonas David, science-fiction author and cat enthusiast. When he was asked to tell us about his writing rules, he wrote the following advice. Check it out!
My Rule One is not necessarily a rule that would be number one for any other writer, but it is one I have to keep telling myself. It is “Skip to the point.” Details are fine and dandy and can be fun to get lost in, but don’t let yourself get trapped in them.
When I first started writing, among many other things I had a problem of getting stuck because I couldn’t think of specific details or would end up writing about inane, pointless things that the character had to do to get from Point A to Point B.
For instance: Say your character needs to meet her illicit lover in the coffee shop for a clandestine conversation. Well, first she needs to get out of bed, right? Yes, then she needs to brush her teeth and put on some clothes, but what should she wear? Once she’s dressed, she has to have breakfast and maybe read the newspaper, then she has to find her keys and walk out to her car in the driveway. Then she gets in the car and drives to the coffee shop, getting trapped at a red light on the way . . . Or, you can escape the detail trap and just start with her sitting down at their corner booth in the coffee shop.
The above may be an exaggeration, but I often notice a subtler version of it in my writing and that of others. Ask yourself: Is this important to the plot or character development? Does it tell us something we didn’t already know about the story or the character? Is it at least exciting? If you can’t answer yes to any of these, then why are you writing it?
It’s like being trapped in Zeno’s Paradox of Motion: “That which is in motion must arrive at the halfway stage before it arrives at the goal.” It implies that it is impossible to ever reach the goal because you can always move half of the remaining distance to the end.
If you find yourself writing like this, the paradox will become true and you’ll never get to the point. So instead, skip to the point! I this rule think easily fits under Cicero Grade’s Rule One. Mine is just a more specific area in which your writing can get in the way of your story.
Other rules I like to use are “If something can go wrong, it should!” and “Think bigger!”
The more conflict in a story, the more interesting and exciting it is, so don’t miss opportunities to add some. Secondly, why do something small when you can do it huge? Let’s combine both of these into our previous example: Our heroine is meeting her lover at the coffee shop, so what could go wrong? Let’s put her husband at the counter having some breakfast before work. Great! Now our heroine is uncomfortable and stressed, just how we like our heroes to be. But wait, lets think bigger! He turns around and sees her and yelling ensues. Bigger! He gets into a brawl with her secret lover and the police are called. Now we have a story.
So get your fingers on those keys and go write! And when you do, skip to the point where things go wrong—badly wrong!
Which of Jonas David’s stories is your favorite? What writing advice do you agree with, and what are your writing rules? Comment below!
Today’s installment of BEA comes courtesy of ANONYMOUS.
“Oh please, Grant. You know, you’re right to be ashamed of yourself, you tracksuit-wearing hypocrite. Not because you’re a hypocrite, but because you’re too fucking afraid to admit it. And isn’t that just a bit mad? Brother, you’ve killed more than the number of times you’ve fucked your wife.”
“Oh, please, Grant. You’re just a hypocrite in a tracksuit. You’re right to be ashamed of yourself—you can’t even admit it! And isn’t that mad, Brother? You’ve done more killing than fucking.”
How would you have rewritten it? Put your answers in the comments below!
Would you like a free paragraph-edit? To be featured in Before Editing and After, send your passage of up to 150 words (along with your name and a link to your webspace) to Blog@CiceroGrade.com. Thanks!
There is no absolute rule in English, and this is the only absolute rule. Did I just blow your mind? Well stay tuned, ‘cos I’m about to do it again: you can use apostrophes to pluralize some things!
I can tell by your expression that you think I am pulling your leg. Nope. That’s not me.
Use apostrophe-s’s to pluralize lowercase letters. For example: Use apostrophe-s’s to pluralize lowercase letters.
Use apostrophe-s’s to pluralize abbreviations. For example: Make sure all the etc.’s have a period attached.
I said in this post to never pluralize nouns with an apostrophe-s. Please note that this is incomplete. I’m sorry for misinforming anyone.
Do you have a grammar tidbit you’d like others to know? Do you have a question about grammar you’d like answered simply and concisely? Send an email to Blog@CiceroGrade.com!
1. Dialogue should be brief.
2. It should add to the reader’s present knowledge.
3. It should eliminate the routine exchanges of ordinary conversation.
4. It should convey a sense of spontaneity but eliminate the repetitiveness of real talk.
5. It should keep the story moving forward.
6. It should be revelatory of the speaker’s character, both directly and indirectly.
7. It should show the relationships among people.
What are your writing rules? Do they fit under Cicero Grade‘s Rule One?
Welcome to the newest installment of Cicero Grade’s editing contest: The Grade! Even the best writers produce some cringe-worthy lines. The measure of a writer lies in what he or she does about it. This contest challenges our following writers to fix these offending lines. To participate, simply post a “before” line and an “after” line from your writing. If you’d rather not show your personal growth, just work on the lines provided below. The follower with the best rewrite will win an edit of their work for up to 1000 words!
This week’s line comes to us courtesy of my new favorite thing, the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest:
It wasn’t sour grapes – Clementine knew that her parents just plum disapproved of her Kiwi lover; try as she might to explain that the love between the pair was all peachy, she might as well have been comparing apples to oranges, so although she was bananas for him, and the ring was certainly no lemon, she was forced to reply to his “Honey, do you?” with a mournful “You know I just can’t elope.”
I don’t know if I like this one because it’s full of clichés, or if I’m just stoked ‘cos I understand all the puns. Post your entries in the comments below!
If you were born in March, you might spot this one pretty easily.
The correct spelling is Buenos Aires, as in “air.” The spelling on the window refers to astrological sign Aries. So Buenos Aries would be a good name for some sort of astrologers’ retreat. Is that a thing?
Is each letter its own sticker, or each word? Is this misspelled at every franchise? Go to your local Friday’s and post your findings below!
Have a Typo photo you’d like to share? Please send them to Blog@CiceroGrade.com!