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Writing Rules for a Reason

I had a longish bus ride yesterday, so before I left, I downloaded a book onto my Kindle.  I settled into my seat and started reading, feeling smug over the ease of having purchased the novel and then having remembered to put the Kindle into my bag.  Unfortunately, I knew I had made a mistake after only three pages.  A ten-dollar mistake.

In the future, I'll remember to Google an unknown publisher before I click "Buy" on the Kindle page.  In this case, I fell for what must have been five "friends and family" reviews, and because the book was supposed to be set in the period I'm concentrating on (1910-1920, in case you have recommendations), I was hasty.   I don't, as a rule, put up negative Amazon.com reviews, because as a fellow writer, I know how cruel they can be, and how hurtful.  I won't do it this time, either. I'll just be careful to avoid all books produced by a company called Zondervan.  But in the meantime . . .

As a teacher of writing, as well as being an active novelist, I sometimes wonder if I'm too strict with my students over following the basic rules of writing.  After this experience, I will no longer question my standards!  Observation of some of the basic rules--or even awareness of them--might have saved this novel from being completely unreadable.  Head-hopping.  Exposition.  Excessive adverbs.  Telling, not showing.  Telegraphing.

Yes, the rules have reasons.  And if a writer is going to break them--as we all do from time to time--she should understand what she's doing.  And have a reason for it.

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1910-1920 . . . Kafka, of

1910-1920 . . . Kafka, of course!

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Took me the longest time to get your point. Kafka! Got it. :-) Also, of course, Fitzgerald. I only steal from the best.

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Amazon.com has refunded my money for this purchase. Impressive! Of course, I'll immediately buy another book.

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writting rules

Gabriela Tijerina
Hi, I´m new at this, and I´m from México City, can you tell me where I can find this writting rules, please?

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Hi, Irma, and welcome.

There are some excellent books on writing, and some very good writing schools, too. The Long Ridge Writers Group is wonderful for teaching the basic rules I'm talking about here. It's "distance learning", or a correspondence school, but it's all one-on-one teaching. (Full disclosure: I'm one of their teachers.) A book we use is called ON WRITING WELL, by Zinsser, but there are many to turn to.

Let me know if I can help further.