Friday, August 12, 2016

The 10 Commandments of Writing

Writer's are an odd bunch. We keep totems on our desks as good luck charms (or maybe writer's-block-keep-away-ers). Many of us have little rituals we do before writing: drinking a cup of coffee, twirling around in our chair two and a half times, fiddling with a rubiks cube, turning on our favorite Pandora station, saying a little prayer, or wiggling our fingers over the keyboard while singing our ABCs. You name it, a writer has probably done it.

Because writer's are such a varied group of people, it's no surprise that the rules of writing are practically nonexistent. Some think that fragmented sentences are abominations, while others see them as gift from above. We have Team Oxford Comma and Team Non-Oxford comma (also known as Team Heathen. If you are visiting my blog and are Team Heathen, then leave now and never come back). And let's not forget about the disagreements over "showing versus telling," prologue versus no prologue, and escapist fiction versus interpretive fiction.

Basically, there are practically no rules that at least one writer has not broken. I get it. I'm all for the "guidelines rather than actual rules" mindset.

But I think it'd be nice to have a group of cohesive rules at the middle of the lives of all writers. I like that, the symmetry, the geometry of good writing laws.

Thankful, such a thing does actually exist. It's called the 10 Commandments of Writing. I found them atop Mount Procrastination, engraved upon tablets of creativity and written with the tools of irony. I'd like to share them all with you in the hopes of building a better, brighter future:
1. Thou shalt worship no writer. For no author is infallible and thus shalt not be exalted as the perfect writer.

2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any false writing rules. Do not fear the false writing rules of thy fellows. Boldly travel where no man has before traversed.

3. Thou shalt not take punctuation and spelling in vain. Study correct spelling with all of your heart, mind, and soul. Do not squander punctuation.

4. Remember your writing time and keep it holy. 

5. Honor thy editors and thy readers. They have raised thee up and lead thee along the paths of publication. Give them thy respect and consideration.

6. Thou shalt not kill thy characters needlessly. 

7. Thou shalt not be unfaithful to thy writing. Hungering after tale hares (*cough* plot bunnies *cough* *cough*) whilst thy current novel lies before thee is harmful to thy productivity.

8. Thou shalt not steal from other writers. Gathering inspiration from thy fellow writer is pleasing, but plagiarism is an abomination.

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy writing. Behold thy writing talents and do not lessen them with insecurities or false criticism.

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's writing style. Thy skills are enough.

These are all commandments I strive to follow in my writing life. I've found them very helpful, particularly 2, 9, and 10. What would you add (or take away) from these 10 Commandments? Tell me about your favorites! I'd love to hear from you.

And yes, you do get major points for leaving comments in Early Modern English. You may find it helpful to write as if you are a certain mighty Asgardian.

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29 comments:

  1. Thou hast spoken wisely and well. Thou shalt have a seat on Mount Procrastination near thy brethren and sistren of the tribe of SASS and SARCASM and heed thee well these exalted commandments. So mote it be.

    😂 Seriously, well done, Hannah! These are awesome. And... I may have gotten the early tongue a bit wrong. ;)

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    1. A throne beside mine brethren of sass and sarcasm? Thee hast bestown upon me the greatest of all honors.

      =D Thank you for the epic comment! Your early tongue rocks and made me giggle. *high fives*

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  2. Thy blog hast pleased mine eyes! Though shalt endeavor to keep up thy mighty deeds of pen.

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    1. Thy comment hast bestowed great pleasure upon me! My thanks for thou readership!

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  3. These have illumined my day with the bright sun of clever wit, and have led me to consider mine own ways with great consideration. He who follows these commandments shall be wise, and his writing shall endure to all generations.

    My thanks to thee.

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    1. Proud am I to have inspired such grand thoughts in one of mine own. May thy writings be blessed and thy stories serve as beacons to many readers.

      Thanks for thy wondrous reply!

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  4. This post, I like it. Another! *smashes computer* *but not really* I hath foundeth commandments 1, 5, and 9 helpful to the utmost degree. My many thanks for thine sanguine humor.

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    1. And I declareth thee both as beings of grand wit and immeasurable nerdiness. Thy comments caused mine face to beam with joy.

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  5. I LOVE THIS. I want it engraved on stone tablets and placed above my desk.

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    1. Lol! That is a brilliant idea. =) I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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  6. This is incredible! I really needed 2, 4, and 10 today, so this was perfect timing. Thanks so much!

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    1. I'm so happy to hear this, Luke! #10 is a very important one. Keep being the awesome writer that you are! Everything else will work itself out.

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  7. 10 is my favourite... needed to hear that

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    1. Yes, #10 is something I think every writer needs to hear and constantly tell themselves. I know I do.

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  8. But lo, a heathen rose up within their midst who did not fear the commandments of writing. And he spake within himself, "I do not fear the commandments of writing, and I will not heed the sixth of these commandments, wherein it is said, 'thou shalt not kill thy characters needlessly'."

    And so he strained against his fat wherewith he was burdened, and against his suspenders, wherewith he was girded. And taking up his pen, he laughed, and he wrote a great book.

    And wen the work was done, he took up his pen and signed his name: "George R.R Martin".

    (Also, C.S Lewis is an exception to rule #1 :P)

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    1. And behold, I bestow upon Master Shutt the "most clever of responses award." Whilst perusing this comment I was forced to stifle mine mirth. I bethought to keep mineself from choking on mine drink.

      I was actually thinking about C.S. Lewis when I wrote rule #1. He's an author I've always adored and seen as perfect up until recently. As it turns out, he makes mistakes like other writers. Just really, really small mistakes that somehow add to his charm. I wish I knew how he did that. =)

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  9. I like it. There not 'rule' rules. They don't limit people writing.
    There is one of rule I think if important. Jeff Gerke calls it the Great Commandment of Fiction. "Thou shall engage your reader from beginning to end."
    Because if you don't they won't be your reader.

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    1. I like this rule, Anna! Simple, straight to the point, and completely worth following. Thanks for the comment!

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  10. Verily, I knoweth of what thou speaketh.

    It has come to pass that I have broken commandment #9. Wherefore that has listeneth to the groanings of the inner censor and hast lost the creative spirit. Thou shalt repent.

    Therefore, thou must have faith in the talents bestowed upon thou and have hope and charity. Thou shalt not steal hope from thy creative talents.

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    1. And lo, thee hast recognized thy talents and shall hence forth strive to keep the 9th commandment. I have the greatest of faith in thy abilities to do so. Mine thoughts and prayers shall be with thee. Forever keepeth thy awesomeness.

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  11. Love these! And I completely agree... Oxford comma all the way!

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    1. Yes, another respecter of the Oxford comma! Thanks for the comment. =)

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  12. Oh, this is bloody brilliant, Hannah!!!! *So* clever - well done!

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    1. Yay! Bloody brilliant was exactly what I was going for. =) Thank you!

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  13. I particularly love how they perfectly parallel the real ten commandments. Makes it easier to remember. Sorry I can't respond in Middle English. I have enough trouble with regular English grammar. If English could please settle on a single set of rules, I will happily abide by them.

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    1. Lol! Don't worry about it. I also would be thrilled if English could decide on one specific set of rules. =D

      Glad you enjoyed the post! I specifically made it parallel the real 10 commandments because it's easier for me to remember that way, too. =D Plus, I thought it would be fun.

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