The Writer's 10 Commandments
October 13, 2010
I got these from a burning bush. Honest.
I. Thou shalt consider the reader. Yes, yes, it's fine to write to entertain yourself, but therein leads self-indulgent unpublishable garbage. Keep the reader in mind.
II. Thou shalt make your main character miserable. Therein lies drama, even in comedy.
III. Thou shalt learn the business. Even if your goal is to become a self-publishing Kindle guru, once the royalties trickle in, you're in business. Figure it out.
IV. Thou shalt complete the work. An incomplete novel manuscript is worthless to anyone except you as a learning exercise. Otherwise it has little if any marketing value. Finish what you start.
V. Thou shalt make thy main character flawed. 'nuff said.
VI. Thou shalt do your research. I'm reading "Painted Ladies" by the late Robert B. Parker. I'm not even sure if he wrote it, it sure feels different. But the lack of research about things like guns and the forensics of bomb making, unfortunately, feels like vintage Parker. Assuming God didn't invent the Internet to primarily make pornography more accessible to everyone, its primary purpose is to provide easy access to information. Use it.
VII. Thou shalt market. Unless you're going straight to Kindle, but otherwise, unless you're writing primarily to amuse yourself, you've got to send your work out to the world to consider. And once published, even self-published, you need to do at least a little marketing.
VIII. Thou shalt grow a thick skin. Because someone, somewhere, is going to say or write something about your work that offends you. Get used to it. I have no intention of telling a surgeon how to do their job or a lawyer or an accountant, and I try not to tell my kids' teachers how to do their jobs (mostly), but everyone wants to tell writers how to do their jobs.
IX. Thou shalt enjoy the process. Because God knows, there's plenty about the business end of writing and publishing that sucks dead bears, you should at least try to enjoy the process of writing. And if you don't, hell, find something else to do.
X. Your turn. You tell me what X is.