Wednesday, January 4, 2017

IWSG, January 2017



Ah, another year, another twelve months of insecurity. Some things never go away. But today, there should be at least ten writers that have something to cheer. So a big congratulations to those selected for the IWSG fantasy anthology! Big huzzahs also to our host, Alex J. Cavanaugh and co-hosts toiling along with him: Eva @ Lillicasplace, Crystal Collier, Sheena-kay Graham, Chemist Ken, LG Keltner, and Heather Gardner!

This month we have a jolly good question to ponder: What writing rule do you wish you'd never heard? Oh, buddy, I can not pick just one. Here's a countdown of my top three:

3. Dialogue tags. The rule is to use "he said", "she said", and maybe, in a pinch, "asked". Your characters may not hiss, growl, yelp, murmur, or vomit--at least, not in the dialogue tag. And for great goodness sake, do not sneak in any adverbs. We don't need to know that your character moaned incessantly.

"I follow this rule under great duress!" shouted the frustrated author. 


Image: Szoki Adams


2. Prologues. These are usually great, stinking dung heaps of info very bad things authors should avoid like the plague just as no decent author would ever, EVER use the word "very" (or any other crassly-placed adverb).

My current novel has a prologue and I love it. So there.


Image: pockafwye


1. Word counts. I can not express how much I hate those two words when put together. They are a corset squeezing the life out of my rotund, verbose literary universes. 




I once read that a debut author really has no chance of publishing anything 100K or over. That is clearly false, because we all know the reality. A debut author really has no chance of publishing. 


Now I must inquire, are there any writing rules that you like?


37 comments:

  1. Has no chance of publishing. I'd laugh if that weren't so true.

    I've scaled back my dialogue tags, but sometimes people really do mutter and growl.

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  2. lol debut author is funny as so many think they'll make a million bucks off one. And yeah, damn the he said she said and that is it crap.

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  3. I've never had a problem with prologues - writing them or reading them. :)

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  4. The word count is much lower for MG & YA authors. Thank goodness! I'm such an "under-writer." I always have to go back and add. And, yes, my mom used to "hiss" when she spoke when she was super mad. Just saying.

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  5. Happy New Year, Lady!
    I love prologues. :-) Oh well...
    Wishing you an awesome 2017.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat Garcia

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  6. The first two are ones that I always challenge. In my blog posts, I tell readers to feel free to use tags other than
    "said." And although many claim to hate prologues, I say go for it! I like them. :)

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  7. Eek! I totally agree with you about dialogue tags! Bugs be so much. And you know what? I see authors breaking that rule all the time.

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  8. LOL! You're hilarious, you know that? Tags are silly. That's more like the current trend. Prologues can add strength when done right. But then, why not start the story there? (In most cases.) Word counts are definitely flexible, but my best writing has been under the guise of flash fiction with limits. It forced me to make EVERY word count. I think if a writer has been through that experience and still writes long, wonderful. If they've never learned to adhere to limits, they're in for a world of hurt.

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  9. I went through a period (long ago) where I always used "said," "asked," or "shouted," I weeded ALL adverbs out, and I tied myself in knots trying to make every "active" instead of using passive verbs. Now, I break all those rules, focusing on the voice of my character and the importance of brevity - it makes more sense to use a perfectly placed adverb rather than bending over backwards to think up an action to "show" the emotion rather than tell, which just adds unnecessary words and slows down your narrative. Still not a fan of prologues though!

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    1. That should be: to make every line "active"... Proofing is a good thing. I should do it more often. ;)

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  10. Happy New Year! I see that dialogue tag rule being broken all the time so go for it a bit. I hear you about the frustrations of always having to follow rules, though there is a place for them.

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  11. Dump the rules and go for what makes you feel good about your story.

    Happy New Year.

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  12. I love prologues when I'm reading novels. I've never understood that rule. And there are so many differing views about the dialogue tags. And the word counts!!!! And exclamation points are not be used. Why is it on the keyboard? LOL

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  13. Keep your prologue! My first book has one. I never understood why some people hate them.
    Happy 2017!

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  14. Too funny, Tamara! And so true.

    I believe rules #3 and #2 came to us from literary agents. Before they started denouncing dialogue tags and prologues, books were full of them.

    Like Alex, I don't understand the hatred of prologues either. Done well, they can be very effective. There's an easy way around that rule, though--call it "Chapter One" and no one notices.

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  15. I think the problem with prologues in the past was that some people used them as grand info dumps or thought a prologue was high class writing but didn't put real effort into doing anything interesting. Today however I think most people who do prologues genuinely want to and put as much effort into them as with the rest of their book. Yeah a lot of these rules are to satisfy certain publishing standards. Readers don't give a shit. They want a great story to read. The end.

    You have been checked by a co-host. Hi!

    QueendSheena
    2017 IWSG January Co-Host

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  16. Ah, dialog tags. I follow this rule... somewhat, but to alleviate my need for other verbs in dialog, I often use beats (pieces of action) instead of tags. Here is an example:
    ~~~~~~~~
    "Great post, Tamara." Olga stared at the computer screen for a while before she clicked Publish.
    ~~~~~~~~
    You see: no tags at all.

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  17. I first heard the rule about not using prologues after writing a story with one. I didn't cut it. LOL

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  18. There's so many rules that need to be ignored. Best selling authors don't stick to these rules! They're just to hold back newbies.

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  19. I laughed out loud. Thanks for that! :D

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  20. those are all excellent things that should be taken with a grain of salt I have done some different dialogue tags sparingly and I have done prologues which I also like sometimes if they're appropriate they work! Word count is not a problem for me I'm usually weigh under but I've read him way over !

    and thank you for stopping by my cradle rock release tour at Ken's place !

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  21. That last bit made me actually LOL. And pfft to the dialogue tags rule.

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  22. I have the opposite problem with word counts. I'm usually low.

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  23. I've heard warnings against prologues before too but I see them in many books. I personally like prologues because I can sample the tone of the book without diving right in.

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  24. There are some authors who take the freedom to omit the dialogue tags. Maybe you have to be a great and acclaimed literary author (like Cormac McCarthy or Jon Fosse) to do so.

    Cold As Heaven

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  25. The idea of a word count drives me crazy too. And I love a good prologue.

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  26. OMG! I couldn't agree more with those rules! Many are the "older" novels I've ready(particularly children's novels - L. Frank Baum ) where dialog tags were descriptive and used those dreaded adverbs. Sometimes I feel that simplifying things this way is a kind of dumbing down. It's also rather restrictive...

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  27. OMG! I couldn't agree more with those rules! Many are the "older" novels I've ready(particularly children's novels - L. Frank Baum ) where dialog tags were descriptive and used those dreaded adverbs. Sometimes I feel that simplifying things this way is a kind of dumbing down. It's also rather restrictive...

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  28. LOL, I like them all when they are needed and actually improve my writing and make it better. Don't normally worry about them until the revision.
    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

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  29. I like prologues; they provide background information to help build up the story. As for dialogue tags, I have endless trouble with figuring out what sounds right in my writing vs. what the rules say.

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  30. Writing rules are there so that writers can learn them, understand them and then know just where and how to break them.

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  31. I've never understood why prologues get such a bad rap. I had one in my first book and didn't know until much later that it was such a horrible thing to do LOL. Oh well.

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  32. I don't think prologues are so bad either! Some of those writing 'rules' are made to be broken or at least bent a little! Happy New Year, I hope your cold doesn't hang around too long.

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  33. Dialog tags... I try to keep it simple, and I don't use it if I don't have to. I've read some novels where it was an assault of dialog tags. Every quote has one. He said, she said, he said, Mike said, Susan said, the teacher said, my boss said... like 20 times on the same page. It drives me bonkers!

    And word counts? Come on. I love prologues in books. It's like warmup before the exercise - it's for the story's own benefit.

    Happy writing!!!

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  34. I love word counts. LOL They keep me moving forward. But, hey, everybody's different. Best wishes for a great 2017.

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  35. Erm...no there are no writing rules I like. To each his own - only this should be kept in mind while writing. Happy 2017!

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