There are no rules on how to write #amwriting #writing

Sometimes when we write, the ideas tumble out in a dizzy onslaught that our fingers can barely keep pace with. Perhaps we are doing something unassuming, such as a task that does not require our mind’s involvement, and a scene unravels in such rapid and startling detail that we dash off to our computer, or failing that a trusty pen and pad.

At other times we have done some planning, and we know roughly what needs to transpire in a scene. We sit down at our keyboard with predetermined intent.

Sometimes the story chugs out like train carriages passing through a station. The ideas are orderly. They flow into one another without urgency, but always the next waits to fall into place just as you need it. You can see where you are, but only the next sentence is ever revealed. I often find this style yields the most surprises. Perhaps a character reveals a hidden detail about themselves, or a sudden insight into the wider plot makes itself known. These chapters need very little editing, and they leave you feeling satisfied.

Sometimes we sit down, and even knowing where the chapter must take us, find ourselves in a fight. The story resists at every single step. We try to coax it,  and then we try to push it, but neither option really works. We get to the end by shear force of will, and with a greater sense of relief than satisfaction. These drafts get the job done, but often need extensive editing to tune the quality, with whole paragraphs chopped back into a single succinct sentence. While writing these scenes may not provide much satisfaction—editing them always does.

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19 thoughts on “There are no rules on how to write #amwriting #writing

    1. Thanks Chris. Another great quote 😉 Yes, I do plan my book to some extent. It’s probably more of a loose frame than a rigid one. The hard chapters normally sort themselves out during editing, and sometimes you just have to get it down, however painful doing it seems. Do love it when the story just writes itself though 🙂

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  1. I find that different projects work differently, too. I’m generally not much of a planner, but the story I’m writing now was pretty clearly laid out before I wrote the first scene. It doesn’t mean my “process” is changing — it just means that’s what this story needs.

    Also, about the scenes you have to fight your way through step by step — I have a new theory about those. Sometimes that’s what you have to do, definitely, but sometimes it means that the scene just doesn’t work. I know the feeling from writing songs — sometimes there’s a melody or a hook, but you never do figure out how to make a whole song out of it.

    With my current story, I junked the second scene completely (after trying everything I could think of to get it work) and now it goes right to Scene #3.

    #2 had some vital information, which I’ll convey elsewhere, but it had no entertainment value whatsoever, and that’s deadly in the second scene of a story.

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    1. Great points Anthony. I have done similar and deleted a whole chapter on one occasion, taking just a few parts of it and including them in a later scene. Drafting it is important because it help you work out the story, but recognising when to chop it the edit is just as vital. I used to be really precious about cutting, now I just hack away. I always have saved copies incase I go too far, but almost never need them.

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  2. You are so right about how the experience of writing can be different from one day to the next. Sometimes the words burst out, sometimes they chug smoothly forward, and sometimes it’s a chore so laborious that cleaning toilets seems like the easier, more pleasant job. 🙂

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  3. It is true that writing has no fixed rules.However, both in fiction and non-fiction, we travel with an ultimate destination.Hence, sometimes your pathway may be smooth, sometimes rough. Of course, sometimes, the pathway is thorny making it very difficult to traverse.But it is upto the driver to steer clear all these difficulties and reach the destination safely with or without any injury to the traveler and of course, the driver is also not an exception.

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  4. Writing evolves out of the individual personality of a writer.If a writer is pure vegetarian, you can feel the vegetarianism too in his writing.If a writer is a toper, even when he writes consciously,you can smell liquor in his writing.If a writer is a cricketer, you can learn cricket from his writings.I would like to conclude that writing emanates from the individual personality of the writer.

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    1. Interesting points, and I am going to guess that you might have spent a little more time than me analysing this. I am not sure that I believe a writer’s own personality permeates every aspect of their book or their characters, some yes, but not all. I can always see all perspectives, I might not be a vegetarian, but I can imagine very strongly how it would feel. I would definitely like to think that writers are as individual as their characters and that the degrees to which they impose themselves on their book are just as diverse. A fascinating observation, and thank you for sharing. 🙂

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