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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Write Drunk, Edit Sober

While people tend to misattribute this quote to Ernest Hemingway (myself included) it is one of the few rules of writing that I follow. Now, I do NOT write while I’m actually drunk. I couldn’t type or use a pencil properly while drunk, let alone have a solid enough idea to write about. I do, however, write like I’m drunk. When you’re drunk you tend to become uninhibited. That lack of walls and barriers has always helped me to write (and so does a glass of wine or two).

The other rule I live and will die by is keeping a notebook with me at all times. I never know when a great idea will pop into my head. I write the most random of things in it. I write down names I like, places, phrases, quotes, my feelings. I write down words that have an interesting sounds, song lyrics, plot ideas, I basically write down everything so I don’t forget anything.

A lot of people tend to follow Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules for Good Writing. Those rules are: 

1. Never open a book with weather.

2. Avoid prologues.

3. Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue.

4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said”…he admonished gravely.

5. Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or        three per 100,000 words of prose. 

6. Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose."

7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.

8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.

9. Don't go into great detail describing places and things.

10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

All of these rules work best when they are broken, though number three is something I believe in (I wholeheartedly blame Fifty Shades of Gray for this, but that is for another post, another day). So, write what you like and how you like. The point of creativity, to me, is to see just how far you can bend the rules before you dismantle them, and they should be dismantled!