4 Rules for Writing Fiction You Can Ignore

You think you know how to write fiction? You probably don’t. Not unless you follow these four cardinal writing rules.

Remember: some highly successful writers break these rules and still write great stuff. But you are not one of them. It is not possible to break these rules and write great stuff unless you are already a successful writer. Got it? Good.

1. Show, don’t tell

You’re telling me a story, right? Wrong. You need to show me the story. You don’t need a pen and paper or a keyboard — you need a stage. Perform for me, monkey.

You could act out the story, mime it, or come up with a contemporary dance routine. Whatever you do, don’t you dare tell me what happens, because that’s bad writing. It’s boring. What readers really want is a series of ideas which they can interpret in a million and one different ways without fully understanding what your story is all about. Do you understand? Of course you don’t. That’s exactly my point.

Now, there is a very subtle difference between showing and telling when writing fiction, and I’m afraid I can’t share with you what that difference is. Why? Because I have no idea myself. Nobody does. All I know is that “show, don’t tell” is the most repeated mantra known to fiction writers the world over, and we must abide.

2. Never carry dialogue with anything other than “said”

You don’t want your writing to become too pretentious, right? In that case, don’t even think about using anything other than “said” when you’re telling — sorry, showing — us how your characters interact.

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I Don’t Know What My Genre Is (Or If It Matters)

Something that I’ve been struggling with recently is defining my genre. Right now, I pitch my tales as “speculative” because this seems to me to be the most professional way to define “weird shit” which is, apparently, what I tend to write.

People have told me I have a “style,” but when I ask them what that style is, they say, “Um, well, I dunno. It’s just kinda weird.” Helpful. Continue reading “I Don’t Know What My Genre Is (Or If It Matters)”

How to Overcome Writer’s Block | Blog

Last year I wrote a blog post about how to overcome writer’s block, in which I recommended ignoring it and writing anyway. I mentioned that I try to adopt the attitude that writer’s block doesn’t exist, because resigning myself to writer’s block only makes the problem worse.

I do still stand by that to a certain extent, but I wanted to expand on it because overcoming writer’s block isn’t always as simple as completely denying its existence. Even if we don’t call it writer’s block, we can agree that there are always fluctuations in our creativity levels, the number of ideas we have, and the amount we write on a regular basis. We’re not all super inspired and eager to write every single day. We all go through phases in which we struggle to write, and it’s perfectly natural and normal.

But what’s the best way of dealing with it? Is overcoming writer’s block possible? Continue reading “How to Overcome Writer’s Block | Blog”

Writing Makes Me Miserable: On Writing and Mental Health

Writing makes me miserable. But I do it anyway, because sometimes it’s just the tonic I need.

I’ve suffered from depression on and off since I was a teen. There have been moments where I’ve thought, “Shit, this thing is going to kill me,” and times where I’ve thought, “Wow, I’m so happy I can’t imagine I’ll ever be depressed ever again.” I was wrong on both counts. I’m still here, but I’m still working on my mental health every single day. Continue reading “Writing Makes Me Miserable: On Writing and Mental Health”

Not Everyone Has Their Sh*t Together

Not everyone has their shit together, and the sooner we all come to this realisation, the happier we will be.

I touched on this in my 27 Things I Learned by Age 27 list a couple of weeks ago, but I wanted to elaborate a little because, as some of you have probably figured out by now, I like to ramble. 😉 Continue reading “Not Everyone Has Their Sh*t Together”

27 Things I Learned by Age 27

I turned 27 a couple of weeks ago. It’s a weird age, 27. Slap bang in the middle between 25 (oh, I’m a sassy mid-twenties chick, cool) and 30 (oh, I’m an actual FULLY GROWN ADULT NOW, fuck). All of a sudden, I feel all grown up, even though most of the time I still think (and probably act) like a teenager.

I considered doing a 30 before 30 list, since I see so many of them on blogs and on YouTube. But with only 3 years left before that milestone, I felt like starting a list now would be too much pressure. So, in the interest of jumping on another trend that I’ve seen floating around for years, I’ll give the “27 things I learned by age 27” thing a go. I have much wisdom to share, obviously. Continue reading “27 Things I Learned by Age 27”