Rules for your writing (not a mechanics post)

EricWard

Fledgling Writer/Editor
Joined
Aug 22, 2012
Messages
182
Location
"The crux of the biscuit is: If it entertains you,
I read a while back that the animators and writers of the Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner shorts had a set of rules they had to follow. Things like "the Coyote's worst enemy should be gravity" or "The Roadrunner always has to win" or "The audience's sympathy must always be with the Coyote."

That got me to thinking about rules when I write. To name a few:

  • Names like "Sector X" or "Object SR135" should only be used if the intent is to show coldness or detachment. Use reasonable slang and jargon by default.
  • The chances of an alien looking even remotely humanoid are astronomical. Aliens should be weird.
  • Nothing is perfect. Even in a utopia, some stuff just won't work all the time. Be it a lightswitch, doorknob, or nuclear fusion drive.
  • Always stand by your (pseudo)scientific explanations. Any cracks will only get bigger if you change the rules halfway.
  • Strange names and costumes alone do not make science fiction.

Obviously, these are not hard and fast rules for anyone other than me, but I do think it's important to keep at least a few things consistent.

What about you guys? Are there rules you have for your works that you will not, cannot break?
 

Kylara

Ghosting
Joined
Jul 16, 2012
Messages
1,621
I always tend to pick a style of naming. Be it translating words into a language that has the right sound for my creations or just inventing them, it should always be consistent. Nothing bothers me more than having Xanthos, Zorg, Keelarious and then Bob. If you go to the extent of making up awesome names, it just seems lazy to name one Bob (unless of course you have different species but still, internal consistency)...

I agree, blagging is the way forward...

Also, science wise I find sometimes, even if your science has been destroyed by Einstein, beauty sometimes trumps it (luminiferous aether for example sounds so much better than its replacement - space/time fabric (relativity theory))...

All placeholder names should be Geoff, Gerald or Greg, because those are the greatest names ever...(they can be changed according to rule one, once a good deal of consistent name ideas have been created) (also one day I plan to have a novel published named Geoff, with no reference to the title anywhere in the novel. Just in tribute to all the Geoffs that have been killed off in favour of more thought through names)
 

chrispenycate

resident pedantissimo
Staff member
Joined
Aug 10, 2005
Messages
7,422
Location
West Sussex
Break other people's rules only when necessary.

Demonstrate to potential buyers that you can follow their submission instructions.

Don't ever bore the reader.

Obviously, as with any rigid rules there will be exceptions, but not very often.
 

Kylara

Ghosting
Joined
Jul 16, 2012
Messages
1,621
If in doubt purplerise :wink: and don't bother with full stops, or anything except for commas...proper punctation can always be added later hehehe (often badly and with horrific results)

Also always use poetry as an outlet when feeling too melancholy, otherwise your prose will be depressing, which, whilst an atribute in poetry is oft frowned upon when your scene should be happy...
 

hopewrites

Crochet Streamer
Joined
Oct 6, 2011
Messages
3,487
Location
Earth
Always, to the best of one's abilities, speak in the language of person to whom one is speaking.

If I can't say something kindly, say nothing. Better to be believed to be *derogatory something* than to open my mouth and remove some/any/all doubt.
 

Jo Zebedee

Aliens vs Belfast.
Supporter
Joined
Oct 5, 2011
Messages
18,727
Location
blah - flags. So many flags.
Try to avoid anything that's going to turn me in circles sciency-wise

Don't use the word thought unless in an emergency

get it down, however i do it, and then revise, revise, revise.
 

Kylara

Ghosting
Joined
Jul 16, 2012
Messages
1,621
Always carry a notebook and pencil...and always write an idea down, no matter how silly it seems or how much you think you will remember it...better to have lots of ideas with a couple of gems, than no gems at all...
 

allmywires

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2012
Messages
1,672
Location
London
Agree with Hex that I have to like the bad guy (9 out of 10 times I like them more than the good guys...)

Every character has a dark side, and its your job to show it.

Know their psychology and what makes them tick like the back of your hand.

For god's sake don't let your baddies be 2-bit menaces! Give them a life story and motives.
 

Mouse

ejtett.weebly.com
Joined
Jun 2, 2006
Messages
10,549
Location
Devon
I don't think I have any rules and it's going to bug me now until I can think of some.
 

Jammill Khursheed

Smell your own dam finger
Joined
Feb 27, 2012
Messages
146
Never use standardised dialogue (it's a crazy plan but it just might work' type of malarkey)

Never have a comedy relief character, just bad-ass serious one who THINKS they're funny sometimes

NO ONE LINERS - you aren't Michael Bay, and you should be thankful of that every day of your life

If you don't think it's original, STOP, and come up with something that is

Jammill
 

CyBeR

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2009
Messages
625
Never use standardised dialogue (it's a crazy plan but it just might work' type of malarkey)

Never have a comedy relief character, just bad-ass serious one who THINKS they're funny sometimes

NO ONE LINERS - you aren't Michael Bay, and you should be thankful of that every day of your life

If you don't think it's original, STOP, and come up with something that is

Jammill

Oh yes, I learned that one right here on the forum.
No matter how you justify it, just stop and drop it like it's hot.
 

Similar threads


Top