Everyone’s Got Rules

Everyone’s Got Rules
Terry Odell

Red book saying The Rule Book with a pair of black glasses

Cruising Undercover is “finished” and waiting for release day, August 23rd. Early reviews have been positive, and it’s time to move on to the next project. In a rare moment of office “housekeeping” I came across an unmarked folder. Inside I found a page titled “Barbara Wright’s Rules of Writing.”

Because I have handwritten notes on the page, I must have attended a workshop where this was a handout. I had no memory of Barbara Wright, but she was smart enough to include her website in the footer. Looking at her picture on the site, I still had no memory of either her or the workshop, but the “Rules” she gave were interesting and, of course, I thought they’d make good discussion fodder here at TKZ.

  1. Keep it concrete
  2. Familiarize yourself with the best writing. Dismantle it and ask yourself what makes it work
  3. Create the conditions you need in order to write
  4. Everything is material
  5. Anyone can be a writer
  6. Don’t take rejection personally
  7. Keep your eyes open (my notes added ‘ears’ here)
  8. There’s no such thing as failure. The only way you can fail is to quit.
  9. Don’t show off. All details must be in service of the story
  10. Pretty good is not good enough
  11. You don’t find ideas; ideas find you
  12. Take risks (my notes say ‘forces you to be better than you are’)

Her last “rule” was the familiar quote: There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, nobody knows what they are. (Somerset Maugham)

All right, TKZers. Do any of these resonate with you? Any you’ve tried and given up on? Any you don’t think are worth trying?

For me, when I was starting, #6 was a tough one to develop. Currently, I’d say my top three are 5, 9 and 10.

And one final note: On Saturday, August 27th, I’ve been invited to speak at the Speed City Sisters in Crime chapter’s meeting. I would really love to “see” some of you (or at least your names, because they turn off video for the audience). The Title is “How I Became a Writer by Mistake” and it’ll be mostly Q&A. Time: noon EDT, 9 Pacific. You have to register, but it’s free. Details here.

Cruising Undercover by Terry OdellNow Available for Pre-Order: Cruising Undercover.

Not accepting the assignment could cost him his job. Accepting it could cost him his life.

Terry Odell is an award-winning author of Mystery and Romantic Suspense, although she prefers to think of them all as “Mysteries with Relationships.”