The Writer’s Ten Commandments

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Writer's Ten Commandments


  1.  Don’t ever let anyone convince you that you’re not a writer.  This is the most important thing to keep in mind, because, along the way there will be many who will try to divert you from your goals, from family to the educational system.
  2. Never forget that you write to be read.  Unless you’re one of those artsy writers who write only for your own pleasure, remember that your reader is your customer.
  3. Begin at the beginning.  Whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, start in the appropriate place.
  4. Don’t use ten words when one will do.  Now, writers are supposed to use words, and the more the better, right?  Wrong.  If a word doesn’t contribute to the understanding or forward movement of your story, cut it.
  5. Get your reader’s attention with the first sentence.  When someone picks up something you’ve written, make sure the first sentence grabs them by the nose, eyes, heart, ears, and taste buds and makes it impossible for them not to turn the page to see ‘what happens next.’
  6. Once the hook is in, keep pulling.  If you’ve hooked a reader with your opening, you owe that reader a great ride.  Put your reader on a roller coaster that they’ll never forget.
  7. Don’t censor yourself.  When you’re writing, especially first drafts; don’t let that internal censor or critic hold you back.  Let it flow out, warts and all; you can always apply a little blemish remover during rewrite.
  8. Remember the basic story structure:  Take a character that readers can identify with or sympathize with; put him up a tree and remove the ladder; throw rocks at him for a while; and then let him climb triumphantly down from that tree.
  9. There’s actually only one plot or theme for every story:  Someone came to town; things changed.
  10. Write every day – something, anything, just write.