Friday, February 19, 2016

The Rules of Writing

The Rules of Writing… 
by Denyse Bridger

Write what you know. Write every day. Write for yourself. Change this. Learn that… Then do it all over again. A few times. This is the glamorous world of writing at its’ core. All the learning is on-going. It never really lets up if you are writer who respects and understands craft–and yes, despite the shoddy way it is often treated, writing IS considered to be a craft, or an art.

There are endless ways to address writing, some that give it an air of mystery, or glamorize what is often a very lonely and personal process for most of us. You’ll see phrases like “show, don’t tell” a lot. References made to a writer’s “voice” – like it’s something Divine or magical. Some banter about monikers like “natural writer” because the stories come as easily as drawing breath – while others struggle to dredge up one solid idea that can be hammered into a story plot.

But, what does any of it really mean? I have collected about a thousand dollars worth of writing guides over the past two years – 50/50 split between paper and eBooks. A few nights ago I forced myself NOT to buy yet another guide, despite the high recommendation it was given. Why? Well, I’ve come to the sad but real conclusion that all this study has not only slowed my writing process, it’s pretty much strangled my voice and joy of creating stories. It’s ironic in one sense because years ago I used to get asked a lot if I had studied creative writing, or gone to school to learn to write. No on both counts – I told many people that sitting in on one “writing course” class was all it took to convince me that being told how to construct sentences and what “rules” should always be observed was the quickest way to silence the stories before they ever stirred to life.

Good editors and writers all know that the only honest and real rule is there are no rules so etched in stone that they can’t be broken or ignored entirely. Writing is like the flow of a river, shifting, rushing, always moving forward to a destination. Rules are like dams – they slow the progress, but they can’t really stop the inevitable burst that will open the floodgates, figuratively speaking, of course.

I like good editors, they teach and draw out your inner visions, sometimes showing you things you didn’t see yourself in the rush of white-water rafting that was your first draft creation. LISTEN to those editors, they care about your story. There’s more to editing than typos, grammar, and rearranging words. Editors who chop out blocks of your text, and expect to be the final word on your story are honestly full of shit for the most part and should be avoided. The story is yours – work with a builder, not a wrecking ball.

Tons of advice out there. You can read and learn forever – which means you’ll never write that book. If you don’t draw the line and just do the writing, you can’t really call yourself a writer. Writer-in-waiting maybe, but you’re the only one who’ll know that.

So, break a few rules, make a few rules, bend a few rules. Do whatever works for you. Don’t write what you know, write what you feel – what pushes and inspires you. Toss your baby out of the nest and into the world. Then – start all over again! That’s the only way to do this gig.

Good luck, and happy writing!!

About Denyse
Canadian born and bred, and a lifelong dreamer, I began writing at an early age and can’t recall a time when I wasn’t creating in some artistic form. My life has had several on-going love affairs that shape much of what I write. In the past half dozen years, I’ve released books in all lengths and genres, and it’s something I hope to continue to do for many more years. A visit to my websites will show the diversity of what is currently available, as well as other surprises and extras!

When her lover, Martin Fowler is called away to Washington and she can't go with him, Daniella LeBeaux is restless and edgy. Martin's older, worldly, and has a reputation that would make most women think twice about trusting him. Dani loves him, and trust is not what's making her anxious and edgy - lust and loneliness are combining with a little too much to drink. When the phone rings, and it's Martin, delayed again, he teaches her a new way to make love long-distance style.... but who's watching Dani? And is Martin really ready for the revenge his actions incite?

1-900-SURPRISE! Short, sexy contemporary with edge!
Available from Wicked Lass Press/Eirelander Publishing


  1. That was an amazing breath of fresh air - fabulous post.

  2. Thanks so much, Daryl. Have a wonderful and happy day!! Cheers!

  3. Great post, Denyse! Lots of tips for writers to keep in mind when crafting that next story.

  4. Well said. I've worked with good editors who tease the best out of your story and wrecking ball ones who make you want to cry. Reading too many how to books makes you forget who you are and what you have to say in your own way. Great post.

  5. The post of the day. Thanks. I too have had great editors and bad editors - but realized it's my story and a bad editor can't rewrite it!

  6. Dear Denyse: what a terrific post. Nice to have reinforcement regarding writing what you feel not what you know. My gaze cut to the bookshelf when you mentioned buying yet another book on how to write. Mine is full of those too. But I think the act of writing is one of our best tools, and hopefully with every book we learn and grow, and each book is better than the last. Thank you for such a candid, inspiring, post.

  7. Awesome, ladies.... keep on putting those words of the heart out there, and know you're a success no matter what you're told by critics - remember, those who can - DO - those who can't, criticize!! ;)

  8. Gini, one of the best editors I know recently told me that I'd done the course and studied enough, it was time to get back to work... she's right. My shelf of craft books is groaning under the weight of my fears and all those pages of instruction. So, it is time to start putting the study aside and rediscovering the magic of creating... Good luck and much success to you!!

  9. I love my editor. She's someone who makes me look my best and helps teach me each time we work together. I can't say enough about getting a wonderful editor!

  10. Another great blog, Denyse! I can't even begin to count the times I've been told 'Show, don't tell' - but then try to get someone to clearly explain what that means, and suddenly you're all over the map. Even before I 'went pro' - when I was still writing mostly fanfic - I valued good editors; as the writer, I tend to get so close to what I've written that I assume I've explained everything, and then find out I missed something important.

    Keep it going, Denyse!