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And whatever connections I can make between these chapters of my life.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Rules for Writers

Here's a good one from Janet Fitch. Of course, you might think there are no rules for writers, but truly, you'd be wrong. This book blog from the LA Times also links to the "rules" Elmore Leonard came up with a while back. I agree with Fitch's thoughts more than I did Leonard's...

Her rule about clichés struck a scary chord:

When you’re writing, anything you’ve ever heard or read before is a cliché. They can be combinations of words: Cold sweat. Fire-engine red, or phrases: on the same page, level playing field, or metaphors: big as a house. So quiet you could hear a pin drop. Sometimes things themselves are cliches: fuzzy dice, pink flamingo lawn ornaments, long blonde hair. Just keep asking yourself, “Honestly, have I ever seen this before?” Even if Shakespeare wrote it, or Virginia Woolf, it’s a cliché.

You’re a writer and you have to invent it from scratch, all by yourself. That’s why writing is a lot of work, and demands unflinching honesty.

Whew. That is a lot of hard work, a tall order to fill (whoops! Cliche police!) . And I wonder if, in writing for kids, although equally hard, you might be able to get away with a few clichés. Fuzzy dice? How many kids have heard of that one? And really, pink flamingo lawn ornaments?

1 comment:

Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

"Write the sentence, not just the Story."

Now that right there is one loaded writing tip.

So grateful for these links.