My Short List of Rules for Writing

JJewel

Douglas Morrison
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The Judge has it right with her comment on your Rule 7 (I read each of my Chrons' posts at least three times to catch errors and ensure what I've written is clear). Treat each post that you make on the forum as a miniature story or essay and the continual practice will help your other writing no end. Your three posts so far in this thread are good examples - there's at least 15 grammar, spelling and punctuation errors between them.
Your points on apostrophes and their/there are, frankly, not something that I would include in a list of key rules - if you've problems with them, get a basic grammar book and apply it to what you write.
I won't go into your first two points, because I personally think they are pernicious rubbish made fashionable by the creative writing police. It's like "write what you know", which you'll often find given as advice for authors, and would bring all of science fiction and fantasy writing to a crashing halt if applied.

Here's a link to a post in WriteWords that you may find helpful: What advice would you give to a new writer starting out?
**** I shoot my head! *Bang* :)
 

JJewel

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Okay, I am seriously screwed then.

I have never needed to write in any depth, and this really pushes me, but reading all the replies makes me consider just writing for self rather than other?

Yup my grammar is shocking, I am employed as an ideas man in life, and my hobbies are all art based.

The reality of rules for me always gets in the way.

I am colourblind, but I enjoy using colour in my paintings, not the least bit bothered about the lack of colour matching.

But If I cant write a sentence without 295 Grammatical errors then why write?

As for checking / re-reading work, a thought on that.

At what point does being thorough become being Anal, the first 100 times or longer?

I am a big fan of Scott Walkers work, and yet his last album in particular (before his death) took him years and he kept re-working it until it can only be described as an insane piece of work rather than a thing of beauty. Is this where all writers who try to hard end up?

This has been re-read three times.... Madness approaches :)
 

The Judge

Truth. Order. Moderation.
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It's just as I said when I commented on your piece in Critiques:

if you're happy with your writing, you like what you've written, and your friends and family enjoy your stories, then that's success. There's no need to look further for validation of your work. ... However, if you want to sell your work and/or achieve critical success then it's necessary to look closer at the mechanics of writing
and

I’m not sure what the answer is if you have difficulties with grammar etc, but a competent professional editor is a must for anyone self-publishing.

Don't disparage "just writing for self" -- I'd hope we're all writing for ourselves, even those of us who are lucky enough to have been paid for our writing at any point. And if you're painting for yourself without worrying about people being upset by your colour combinations as a result of your colour-blindness, why denigrate writing for yourself, which is exactly the same?

Only you can decide what will give you most pleasure and most satisfaction. On the one hand the sheer thrill of storytelling, thousands of words pouring from you, then moving straight onto the next story and the next, never pausing to edit or revise, but knowing that you're unlikely to get many readers who won't grumble about the grammar. On the other hand doing all you can to attract readers and possibly agents/publishers by working at your writing, treating it as you would a job, by knuckling down and restricting yourself to an extent by taking pains over all the boring stuff -- unless, of course, you can find someone to do that boring work for you.

It's no different from life in that way. It's wonderful to be a free spirit, but sooner or later there's a price to be paid for being heedless of the rules everyone else lives by. At least with writing the main price is only missing out on a readership.


It is possible to fall from a position of pride in one's work down into a cramped and confined perfectionism which is bordering on mental illness, just as it's possible to overwork a piece and to lose all spontaneity and freshness. Where the border lies will depend on one's writing and one's attitude to life generally, I'd have thought. If you want to use the fear of it to avoid reading your work more than a few times, well, that's up to you. All we can do is say what works for us, and make suggestions how you might proceed.
 

.matthew.

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I wouldn't let grammar get in the way too much. Sure you might make a mess but subsequent reads will flag some errors and there are plenty of ways to check grammar afterwards (most word processors come with at least one form or another).

One that helped me was a program called Quoll Writer. It doesn't hold your hand or anything but it is very good at taking you through what you've written line by line telling you how it's wrong and explaining what it means. It's not 100% but you can just ignore it's suggestions too.
1603037881258.png

You can also disable rules you don't want to think about or add new ones. It'll highlight everything from basic grammar mistakes to passive voice use, overlong sentences (not a hard and fast rule but too many like I tend to write can hurt the reading process), even counting things like syllables and repetition of words.

But yea, you could either write in that or just paste a finished chapter in to double-check. It's also completely free.
 

JJewel

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Thank @.matthew. I am in the process of downloading it now and will consider what next depending on how much it suggests changes as Grammarly just seems to agree with 99% of what I do.

I hear your words @The Judge and it has made me consider is this a path I really want to share with others? I am in re-write hell of 20 stories currently so when I get out of the mire I will either be fixing the first two books and moving on or pulling them and just do it for fun.

Either way their is no harm in improving my skills short term.
 

Phyrebrat

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Don't worry, JJewel, this kind of thread pops up again as years go by. We all have our writing foibles (I cannot get the hang of semicolons and I'm always using them in a rhythmical way, incorrectly.)

(I read each of my Chrons' posts at least three times to catch errors and ensure what I've written is clear).
This is me! Or rather it should be. What I mean is I so often post on Chrons from my phone or splurge from my brain to my laptop and then berate myself for a mass of typos and poor syntax. My PMs are stream-of-consciousness, too! I may try to start being a bit more vigilant.

I lose the ability to spell obvious words quite often, cooker is my worst and certain words I cannot spell at all.
It's funny isn't it. For me 'separate' is always an issue and I spell it randomly with an e after the p. There are others. Sometimes I look at a word and can't believe the spelling is right, even after checking. I suspect some brain expert will have an answer in the future as to why people have such blind spots.

But I am improving and forcing will over nature.
You'll be constantly improving even when you've got yourself in a comfortable place with your literacy/typos. I cringe when I look back on things I wrote and thought 'Yep, nailed it!' when really all I see is the errors.

Yup my grammar is shocking, I am employed as an ideas man in life, and my hobbies are all art based.

The reality of rules for me always gets in the way.
Try to remember everyone's journey is different. There are lots of people here I've learnt from - to the extent that I feel I owe them in some way - yet I often disagree with their comments on crits, writing, reading etc.

Your journey probably includes the discipline needed for writing clear stories.

There's a cheap little red book called The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. It's a simple, indispensible resource on grammar. I'd recommend it.
 
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