Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Writing with rules


Check out this fascinating discussion on Rachelle Gardner's blog about writing and writing rules and which order you should try it. I am of the school that believes (now) that you can't write a symphony without practising your scales so why would you be able to write a novel flat out without some practise.

Any opinions?

9 comments:

emordino said...

I sometimes write in bursts, which I love, but most of my first drafting comes from hard work. The bit I really love is going back over a big lump of text I've written and tweaking it so it does exactly what I want it to do. So I suppose, as always, it's just horses for courses.

Women Rule Writer said...

Rachelle says: 'She wrote a wonderful first novel without ever really studying the craft of fiction.' Hmm. It can be wonderful by observing rules or ignoring them, she doesn't really clarify what was wonderful about it. It's all a bit vague. I think they are more hung up on 'rules' in the USA. SUrely talent and creativity are more important than some made-up set of 'rules'.
It sounds so restrictive.
Maybe they are just referring to the obvious things that improve prose like less adjectives, adverbs etc. but I wouldn't call those 'rules' as such.
A lot of work coming out of MFA programmes is very samey, IMO. They'd wouldn't cope with Pat McCabe, or his like, over there!

Eimear said...

I definitely think you can be a natural storyteller, but a natural writer? No - that's the bit you have to work for. And I don't think it's a case of studying set rules, more just immersing yourself in strong, effective writing until you understand what makes it good.

I dunno if you've read Twilight, but Stephenie Meyer wrote it without having ever written creatively before. It's the kind of book that's powered by passion and melodramatic feeling, but there are adverbs everywhere, clunky sentence structure, purple prose, overuse of certain words etc. I'm surprised her editor didn't completely red-pen it to bits. Then again, it became a massive bestseller ...

Liz said...

Me too - I try and do daily writing practice as often as possible... (but haven't done so in the past few months, though) - am part of a 30:30 and 10:10 group where we motivate each other to write for either 30 or 10 consecutive days.
Talking of which, I see your novel is up to 44% done - great stuff!

BarbaraS said...

I think it's harder to unlearn your bad habits, if you haven't learned the basics.

OTOH, some people learn by doing, and pick up the rules as they go along. There are some people who write two to three novels before they start getting the novel they want right... equally with poetry, it's a case of knowing your craft, before you get poems published, and again, that is a case of writing, writing, writing...

Niamh B said...

I think trying to write a novel flat out is the best practise you can get though - if that's what you want to try and do, but yeah you have to be prepared for the pain afterwards if you've missed out on applying all the rules... Learning through mistakes is probably the only way though, I always try to make the same mistakes a few times, just to be sure...

KAREN said...

That's really interesting. People may not like imposing rules where creativity is concerned, but I'm happy to follow them if it increases my likelihood of succeeding!

Emerging Writer said...

Thanks for your comments and thoughts. I've read Twilight. I found the clunky writing really got in the way of what was a great premise and a very hot hero!

Uiscebot said...

less chat more writing!!