That said, two blogs/articles caught my eye this week. The first is the always informative Writer Beware Blog. The last three entries are of particular interest for those of us looking for ways to get our work noticed. The first, Beware of Fake Awards, lists several of these so-called awards and how to make sure you aren't being scammed. The next entry is Inspired Living Publishing: Another Vanity Anthology Scheme. This isn't the first vanity antho out there, and it won't be the last. But it is something to be aware of before signing on the dotted line and then realizing you are cutting the check and not the other way around.
The final Writer Beware entry of interest this week , MyFreeRead.com: Not Quite What It Appears, is a good reminder for all of us to be careful where we put out work online and how much of it up post. I've written about the perils of posting work online before. I'm not talking about someone stealing your idea and getting it published before you do. Nor am I talking about the comments -- some good and some very hurtful -- that can come and be counterproductive to your creative process. What is of concern is that there are a number of publishers out there who look at posting on the internet as publishing. That includes posting your work in places like the slush piles on Baen's Bar or online critique groups. Putting it up on a sight like MyFreeRead.com or Authonomy can take you right out of contention with a publisher, so be sure before you post on sites like this that you aren't shooting yourself in the foot. Check the guidelines and blogs of the publishers you are interested in and then think twice before hitting the send button.
The article that caught my eye -- and the eye of a number of other bloggers this week -- is Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules for Writing Fiction.
- Never open a book with weather. If it's only to create atmosphere, and not a character's reaction to the weather, you don't want to go on too long. The readers are apt to leaf ahead looking for people. . .
- Avoid prologues: they can be annoying, especially a prologue following an introduction that comes after a foreward. But these are ordinarily found in non-fiction. A prologue in a novel is backstory, and you can drop it in anywhere you want . . .
- Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue. The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But "said" is far less intrusive than "grumbled", "gasped", "cautioned", "lied". I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with "she asseverated" and had to stop reading and go to the dictionary.
- Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said". . .
- Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words. . .
- Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose". . .
- Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly. . .
- Avoid detailed descriptions of characters. . .
- Don't go into great detail describing places and things, unless you're Margaret Atwood and can paint scenes with language. You don' want descriptions that bring the action, the flow of the story, to a standstill.
- Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. . . thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them.
Sarah and some of the other MGCers have already talked about prologues and when you should or should not have one. But what about Mr. Elmore's other rules? Any thoughts or comments? How about any other rules you have when writing? The floor's yours. I'm off to find some more coffee.