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David Hines [userpic]

Eleven Rules

June 6th, 2010 (07:47 pm)

No, this isn't a DOCTOR WHO post; I was just offering some concrit to a writer friend and found myself laying out some general principles of writing as I understand it. Or, more accurately, as I viscerally believe them to be true and correct. This isn't exactly my writer's id, but it's damned close to it. Eleven Rules! I may have more, but here are eleven for now.

  1. Other people are inconvenient.

  2. Different people want different things and will do the same thing for different reasons.

  3. It is hard for the hero to get things that will solve his problems.

  4. It is easy for the hero to get things that give him new problems.

  5. It is double-plus-hard for the hero to get important things he really needs, unless he doesn't know he needs them. (The "Dorothy's Ruby Slippers" Rule.)

  6. Symmetry is your friend.

  7. Repetition is your enemy.

  8. Set things up. Pay them off.

  9. A sidekick or a love interest is not made by giving them the general description and having them stand in rough proximity to the hero.

  10. Avoid making sympathetic characters the enemy of the audience.

  11. The enemy of the audience is anything that gets in the way of the audience being entertained.

Discuss, or post your own. If your writing id had rules, what would they look like?

Originally posted on my DW. | comment count unavailable people have commented there. | Do so yourself, if you like.


Posted by: Jayman (smjayman)
Posted at: June 6th, 2010 09:06 pm (UTC)

Chuck Dixon first told me this, but I have since adopted it...

Every "good guy" needs to have at least one quality you don't like. Something about them that you find bad/stupid/annoying, maybe even abhorrent. On the flip side, every "bad guy" needs to have something about them that you like, maybe even admire. No human can be 100% one or the other and be remotely believable. You also have to have rationale for why the bad guy does bad things. They don't do these things "just because." A realistic human weighs everything in terms of cost and benefit. Maybe somebody's cost/benefit scale doesn't look like yours, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist...

Posted by: forsweatervests (forsweatervests)
Posted at: June 7th, 2010 01:59 am (UTC)

12. Female characters can and should be involved and dynamic. The size of the role doesn't matter, the quality does.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: June 7th, 2010 06:57 am (UTC)
unfair to batgirl

While I try to do this, it's not on my list at id-level. Character service, including how I'm doing by the women, is more of an intellectual check than me than an I AM SEIZED WITH FIRE TO WRITE THIS WAY thing. I know a lot of people for whom this is just such an id-level commandment, but judging by the number of feminists of my acquaintance who angrily berate themselves for not writing enough women or not doing right by their female characters in their fanfic, it's probably not as many as I'd think.

Posted by: forsweatervests (forsweatervests)
Posted at: June 7th, 2010 04:23 pm (UTC)

That's absolutely true. It's easy to get caught up in the main characters and forget about the ones on the periphery unless they serve to move the story forward right then. This might be less id for me and more "what I check obsessively as I write".

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