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23

I would say that in writing, in particular, we shouldn't break the simple rules of grammar and spelling and many other basics. My reason for that is quite simple, if you writer "gramer, speling, n simpel" most readers (and definitely most agents and publishers) are going to stop reading right there. If your intent is to sell books (as opposed to writing ...


21

How to Write Good The first set of rules was written by Frank L. Visco and originally published in the June 1986 issue of Writers' digest. The second set of rules is derived from William Safire's Rules for Writers. Avoid alliteration. Always. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They're old hat.)...


18

"Said" is All You Need to Say My favorite writing teacher, way back in the day, told me--rightly--that it is very rarely necessary to use more than the word "said" when writing dialogue, particularly using adverbs. Almost every time I find myself wanting to use constructions like, "He said excitedly," or the like, I realize I'm better off just saying "...


18

"Sadly, women in ancient China had no sense of self-respect." I'd like to disagree with this statement. When you say this, you are already thinking in modern terms. My area is European Middle Ages and at that time a woman had no power over her body. She belonged to her father, then to her husband. Does that mean she had no self-respect? Where does the ...


14

Write in the Active Voice I'm surprised that no one has mentioned active vs. passive voice (for a good discussion, see this Q&A. Like many "rules," there are various reasons to decide otherwise, but in general the active voice is stronger than the passive.


14

This depends on your style guide and potentially your teacher/school/boss/etc.'s guidelines. If your teacher (for example) says to avoid using the first person you may be able to negotiate to change their position, but ultimately they are the ones evaluating your work so you need to follow their rules. None of the three major American style guides forbids ...


13

Elaborating on what a great teacher (Portuguese literature) of mine once said: 1. Rules exist for a reason - understand why If you know why a rule exists, you know when you should follow it, when you should bend it and when you should break it altogether. By rules, she meant anything from punctuation and spelling to versification and figures of speech. ...


11

Break The Rules Most of the rules here already note that exceptions should always be made, and You must learn to walk before you can run is generally good advice. However, these rules apply mostly to the act of writing itself. There are another set of rules in writing, those of genre. Some of the best creative writing hinges on breaking moulds. An ...


11

This reads completely normal to me and I don't really see anything wrong with it. If "tall" is what identifies the person in this scene it would be normal to use that if the narrator doesn't know the name of the person or wants to emphasize this person being "tall" for whatever reason, such as a small room or something like that. Don't necessarily listen ...


10

There are almost no rules which have "no exceptions." (Which ones are the "no exceptions" is an exercise left to the student.) Your writing tends to be flowy and lyrical. Tightening it up does add some motion and spark to it. I wouldn't tighten everything, because sometimes you want "flowy and lyrical." I think tightening in general is a good thing, but ...


10

The rules say that if you think of it as a novel, it counts as a novel. If you don't think of the whole 50,000 words as a novel, it doesn't strictly fit the rules. I've known lots of people who write 50,000 words of short stories and call it good. It may not strictly satisfy the rules, but so what? You wrote 50,000 words of short stories and had a lot of ...


9

First, welcome to StackExchange! Now onto your question: there aren't any enforced rules when it comes to superpowers or even fiction. The closest thing would be a consistency guideline. Consistency, while not a rule, is usually something a reader will be quick to call out if they perceive it to be broken. When you hear readers complain about a story ...


8

This is what I learned the hard way. The rules are there to support you in getting from A to B and do a decent job regardless of skill level. Following a set of tried and trusted rules allows you as the author room to concentrate on the aspects of a story that you find interesting. Following rules is like a less restrictive form of re-telling an established ...


8

Kill your darlings The idea is that the mind is able to think "ingenious" about any old idea, and that the truth of that assessment can only be tested by trying the idea in reality. Unfortunately sometimes an idea will not work, but the "ingenious tag" persists and we try anything we can to keep our idea in play, even bend reality! This is when you need ...


8

Value a "fresh eyes" point of view on your material This is a set of tips and techniques to try to come at your material with fresh eyes (especially after the first draft). Set the first draft aside for a few months When you have finished the first draft, set it aside for a few months (2-3) before you read it again. The idea is to come at the material ...


8

There are a number of solutions that I have for this, as I suffered from the same problem: Only describe what you need to Imagine trying to describe James Bond to someone. You could say that he is handsome, looks good in a suit, and has an athletic build. This could be enough to get a good image in the reader's head, and could describe any of the actors ...


8

How many commas? Instinctively you have too many, but you are using most correctly. The comma before 'but' is only appropriate if 'but' begins an independent clause or if there is another dependent clause that you are setting off. In your example a case can be made for all the commas (except potentially the last, and perhaps also the comma preceding 'as'...


7

Cut 10% of your first draft in editing This tip is from Stephen King's memoir "On Writing." He got the tip as a comment in one of his rejection letters. The idea is that the language of your first draft is going to be flowery and full of superfluous words. Cutting 10% of those words will tighten your prose. King includes an example of how he edited the ...


7

As noted in this answer, you do need to be mindful that for a user guide your reader's goal is information, while for a rulebook it can also be entertainment. If the entertainment gets in the way of the information, the reader who has to finish his task today and is stuck on how to do the next step is going to be frustrated. There is room for entertainment ...


7

I have been researching comics history for a few decades and I have never heard of such a rule. Others in the thread have given examples. It's true that there are a few stories in which all superpowers have a common source, typically an alien contaminant into the Earth biosphere (J. Michael Straczynski's series Rising Stars and Supreme Power both explore ...


6

Develop. When you are excited in what about you are writing, you have a good chance that your reader will be excited too. Develop the beginning. Develop the story. Develop the ending. Everything you write is in other words what your feel. If you feel bored, your words and writing will be the same, if you feel yourself in the story you can make impossible ...


6

When to break the rules? When you know what you're doing. Breaking the rules "the good way" always serves some purpose. It's never done "just because". Writing is all about eliciting certain moods and feelings in the reader, and the rules prevent jarring, unpleasant surprises, breaking of immersion, and countless other errors that simply take away from the ...


6

This isn't a general rule, but perhaps one that might be useful to you. Teachers, like myself, don't really want swearing or explicit sexual references in the texts we teach. Reading them out loud can cause problems even if the language is realistic. (A novel becoming a common school text will mean greater revenue than just appealing to casual YA readers.) ...


6

Finish the story. Finish it whether it's one book, two, or five. Writing is practice for writing; editing is practice for editing. No effort is wasted. If you have two or three really good books, then when you present book 1 to an agent you can say "book 2/3 is already finished and edited." This means that if the agent likes it, there is/are already sequel(...


6

Adverbs within dialogue are fine, if real people use them (like really). I would avoid stuffing an adverb into dialogue, or using dialogue as a cheat to express with an adverb what should be exposition. The line "That horse nickered nervously," does not sound like something a person would say. They would more likely say, "She's nervous." ...


6

This is a question of "voice." In general, characters are expected to speak largely as real people speak, and real people often speak with non-standard grammar. However, if it becomes too hard to read, modern readers will find this annoying. At one time it was popular in American literature to write entire books in "dialect," but a modern author would be ...


6

Neil Gaiman, making a commencement speech in the University of the Arts in 2012, said the following: When you start out on a career in the arts you have no idea what you are doing. This is great. People who know what they are doing know the rules, and know what is possible and impossible. You do not. And you should not. The rules on what is possible and ...


6

Sometimes you'll see authors avoid constantly repeating character names by replacing them with descriptors. For instance (assume that all three descriptors are referring to John, the tall man who is Martha's son). John walked to the window. The tall man looked across the field. Martha's son was feeling lonely this morning. Don't do that. It's ...


5

Publishers are always looking for a reason to reject submissions, because it is easy to reject (takes a few seconds), and much more work to accept. I was once on an elevator with an editor and the elevator got stuck. The editor got out his phone and said "I can use this time to reject some submissions." The trick is to know the editor and what they usually ...


5

Write Daily. Never let a day pass without writing something. Even if you have no ideas or mood to write just fill a page with whatever comes to mind. It doesn't matter if it is of garbage quality, just keep writing. Many times consistency beats creativity. Also writing without any expectation increases your creativity.


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