I took some creative license in the title because we all know there aren’t any rules in writing. There is just some incredibly strong advice. The “rules” vary widely from writer to writer and even from genre to genre.
But there do seem to a few general “rules” floating out there that were captured by a Guardian article where they printed the rules of Elmore Leonard, whose rules seem to be derigeur today.
1.) Never open a book with the weather
2.) Avoid Prologues
3.) Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
4.) Never use an adverb to modify “said.”
5.) Keep your exclaimation points under control.
6.) Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose”
7.) Use regional dialect and foreign words sparingly.
8.) Avoid detailed descriptions of characters
9.) Don’t go into great detail describing places and things
10.) Try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.
Other general admonitions handed out to beginning writers are “show, not tell” which runs along thing lines of Leonard’s eight, ninth and tenth rule. Writers are encourage to “show” what is happening rather than telling or writing the story like a news report.
Leonard’s rules seem to lean toward a lean and clean prose that doesn’t bog the reader down with word thick prose. Anything not essential to the telling of the immediate story is stripped away. What he seems to be leaning toward is “readability,” the facility of the prose to communicate to as many readers as possible.Continue reading The Craft of #Writing: Lexical Density Compared to Writing Rules