Ten writing rules I hate…or do I?

Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules for writing inspired this post, but not quite the way I planned. I thought I’d hate them all. Now that I’ve actually read them, I’m in the uncomfortable position of having to admit that I agree with some of them. Embarrassing.

Before I hold forth on what I do and do not like, it might help if we all knew what those 10 rules say:

The site is a good resource so check it out : https://www.writingclasses.com/toolbox/tips-masters/elmore-leonard-10-rules-for-good-writing.

So, no. 1 ‘Never open with the weather’. As soon as I read this one, I immediately thought of a 19th century novel that begins with:

‘It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrentsβ€”except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.[3]

Taken from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It_was_a_dark_and_stormy_night

Now apparently this opening is considered to be a prime example of ‘purple prose’ and to be avoided at all costs because…to modern readers it is boring. As someone who grew up with the classics, I love the first phrase – ‘It was a dark and stormy night’. The rest I could do without because it’s kind of pretentious to my ears. Back in the day though, it would have been considered quite normal.

The following is the opening sentence from Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’, published in 1866:

‘At the beginning of July, during an extremely hot spell, towards evening, a young man left the closet he rented and….’

The young man in question is a student who talks himself into killing a moneylender and her sister. The story is possibly the first psychological novel ever written. So much that we now take for granted was pioneered by Dostoyevsky, and yet, gosh…he starts with the weather. Why? Because he’s actually ‘showing’ the reader the world in which the story will unfold. The problem with weather is not about quality but quantity. Too much of anything is boring.

On that basis, I give rule no. 1 a big thumbs down.

Rule no. 2 says to avoid prologues. Why? I assume because they’re considered boring by modern readers. Fair enough, boring prologues should probably be avoided, but prologues don’t have to be either boring or long, and in some stories they are almost a necessity. Which stories? Fantasy and science fiction stories because both are set in worlds that are unfamiliar to the reader.

I like throwing readers in at the deep end, but that’s a preference only. If a story needs a prologue I’ll give it one. I give rule no 2. another thumbs down.

Rule no. 3 ‘Never use a verb other than ‘said’ to carry dialogue’. Dialogue tags were discussed in Audrey Driscoll’s recent blog post so I’ll just say…”Bah humbug. Thumbs down.”

Rule no. 4 ‘Never use an adverb to modify the verb ‘said’. Mmm…this is a kind of damned if you do and damned if you don’t one. I have no problem with a few adverbs but I probably wouldn’t use one to modify ‘said’, but I reserve the right to use one if it’s really necessary.

I think I’d better give this one half a thumbs up. Or half a thumbs down, depending on your preference.

Rule. 5 ‘Keep your exclamation points under control…’ I confess, my first draft is likely to be full of these. They’re a kind of shorthand from my subconscious to the keyboard: ‘this is meant to be exciting, make it so’. After that first pass though, I try really hard to make the sentence do the work instead of the exclamation mark. As with adverbs and internal monologues, too many exclamation marks are annoying [to the reader].

Sadly, no. 5 gets a thumbs up.

Rule no. 6 ‘Never use the word ‘suddenly…’ I object to the word ‘never’. Adverbs are a legitimate part of the English language. ‘Suddenly’ is an adverb therefore banning it completely is ridiculous. It is a perfectly okay word. What’s not okay is to use it ten times before breakfast. Anything repetitive becomes boring.

I give no. 6 a thumbs down on principle.

Rule no. 7 ‘Use regional dialogue, patois, sparingly’. This is one of those common sense things: if your reader has to dig out a dictionary to understand the dialogue, you’re in trouble. Why? Because said reader is going to become bored with the whole thing, and then they’ll stop reading entirely. Notice how ‘boring’ is cropping up rather a lot?

But…I truly loathe books that avoid all patois because they think their readers are too stupid to cope with anything but standard English. That’s dumbing storytelling down to a ridiculous level.

I’m giving rule no. 7 a thumbs up because ‘sparingly’ does not mean ‘never’.

Rule no. 8 ‘Avoid detailed descriptions of characters’. -sigh- Thumbs UP. When I first meet someone in the real world, I might notice general things – tall vs short, fat vs thin, attractive vs ugly, but I cannot remember a single time I’ve noticed that her eyes were a ‘cornflower blue’ or that his ‘manly chest rippled with muscles beneath the tight fitting t-shirt’. Okay, I might notice, but it would probably be accompanied by a mental eye-roll and a ‘really?’

My point here is the same whether I’m reading about a new world or a new character – info. dumps are incredibly boring, and they don’t work because most readers either skip them or don’t retain them. So there is no point hitting the reader over the head with one. Please…just no.

Rule no. 9 ‘Don’t go into great detail describing places and things’. Thumbs UP for the same reason as rule no. 8.

Rule no. 10 ‘Try to leave out the part that the readers tend to skip’. Yes. Thumbs UP.

Of course, the real trick is to recognize those parts in the first place, especially when they involve the darlings that Stephen King tells us to kill.

As a science fiction writer, you may have noticed that I love tech. Without fail, my first attempt at writing techie stuff is way over the top. I write it for me. The next day I re-read it and ask, ‘is this really needed?’ Sometimes it is. Yay! Sometimes only some of it is needed. Sigh. And sometimes none of it is needed, or it’s not needed at that spot. Bugger. Just because we love something doesn’t mean the reader will.

And finally the last rule that rules them all: ‘If it sounds like writing…rewrite it’. Yes.

Many years ago, I began reading a story that should have been strong, powerful, persuasive. Instead, the author inserted himself and his soapbox into every line. I hate it, and the fact that I actually agreed with his worldview only made it worse. As writers, all of our material comes from within, one way or another, but that does not mean we’re allowed to hit the reader over the head with it.

The power of ‘show’ is that readers get to see and feel things for themselves. They also get to come to their own conclusions. If we try to take that away from them, they’ll stop reading. Writing is easy. Telling stories that other people want to read is hard. It’s work. We may not get it right every time, but that’s no excuse not to try.

Well, I had fun with this. What do the rest of you feel about Leonard’s 10 rules, and yes, I’m asking readers as well as writers. What makes you stop reading?

cheers
Meeks

P.S. you’re allowed to disagree with me. -looks angelic-

About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

145 responses to “Ten writing rules I hate…or do I?

  • MELewis

    I am someone who dislikes and resists rules, while also creating many for myself. Go figure, eh? πŸ˜‚ But I guess all rules are made to be broken, and the ‘exception proves the rule’. These are harsh but generally good guidelines. And I keep thinking about your ‘rule’: writing must carry the reader along (not distract with fancy vocabulary, etc.). That just about sums up everything Leonard said.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yorgos KC

      I dislike rules and love to break them, too πŸ˜πŸ˜‡πŸ˜
      Rules are good if they serve your writing. Otherwise, they are annoyances.

      A not-writing, but still valid example, Johann Sebastian Bach composed his music by repeatedly breaking every possible rule of what makes a music piece sound good. Not my favourite composer, but that’s only my taste. He certainly was a genius, his pieces are classic and they even inspired Rock and Metal.

      So, I’ll keep the “breaking rules can create miracles” lesson from his example 😁

      That being said, so many others followed the rules and wrote magnificent music, too. So, rules are not necessary bad, either 😁

      Therefore, if they work for you, use them; if they don’t, forget them.
      πŸ˜πŸ€“πŸ˜‡

      Liked by 2 people

      • acflory

        Have to agree. πŸ™‚ And Bach isn’t my favourite composer either, although the toccata and fugue in D minor is AWESOME. Ahem. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yorgos KC

          I can’t disagree πŸ€“
          And if you take small parts of most of his music pieces as stand-alone, they can be awesome, too. I think he was simply showing off 🀣

          “You think I can’t write harmony? 😏 And now let’s see how magnificently I can destroy it! 😈😈😈”

          Something like that 🀣

          Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            lmao – yes! Another one who loved to show off was Rachmaninoff, but I adore his music, esp. Piano Concerto no. 3. This woman is amazing coz you need /stamina/ to play the Rach 3!

            Liked by 1 person

          • Yorgos KC

            Thank you Meeka!
            Why I didn’t know of this? It’s mesmerising!

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            Unless you grew up playing the piano it would be easy not to know of the Rach 3. It’s said to be one of /the/ hardest piano pieces to play.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Yorgos KC

            Nope. No piano. I tried my luck with “the King of the orchestra”. Unfortunately he didn’t like me as much as I did πŸ€·β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜†πŸ˜

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            lmao! After your comments about Bach, I was so sure you’d learned the piano as that’s how most people discover him these days. To be honest, that’s how I discovered him. I learned the piano for about ten years and got to be good enough to know I’d never be good enough. I’ve never stopped loving piano music though. πŸ™‚

            Liked by 1 person

          • Yorgos KC

            10 yeas? That’s 2 years shy to the diploma!!! Wow!
            As for Bach, he wrote music for violin, too πŸ˜’
            I’d chose Paganini over Bach anytime. Paganini is impossible, but so riveting that makes any improvement feel like a huge success 😁 Never managed to play (correctly) a single piece of his, just to be clear. Love listening his music, though. 😁😁😁

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            Oh my god…you’re a violinist? My Dad played the violin! Sometimes we’d play together. High Five my friend. -huge hugs-

            This is probably one of my all time favourite pieces for the violin: Jules Massenet’s Meditation Thais:

            I went searching and listened to a couple of different versions on Youtube but this one just had something about it, imho. πŸ™‚

            Liked by 1 person

          • Yorgos KC

            Wow! She is absolutely magnificent!
            I’m the exact opposite πŸ˜…
            So, not really a violinist. Tried to. Fall in love with the violin, had an intimate relationship with it for 4 years, until it broke up with me. I’m still in love with it, but it’s a fully one way love. πŸ€·β€β™‚οΈ

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            Aaah…-pats gently- I know that feeling. My piano doesn’t love me any more either.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Yorgos KC

            Usually it’s the violins and the stringed instruments that steal my attention, but here the wind instruments are just too perfect! (Still listening, and shouldn’t be commenting, yet, but please bear with me πŸ˜‡)

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            The flute and…the oboe? The way they sing with the piano is achingly beautiful.

            Liked by 1 person

  • Widdershins

    ‘Yay’, ‘sigh’, and ‘bugger’, is the entire writing process right there! πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  • Candy Korman

    I’ve got a “list” of my own. There’s only one item: Don’t worry about “rules” when writing. Do what serves the story best. hahahaha…

    Liked by 2 people

  • marianallen

    Back when I taught creative writing, I told my students there was only one unbreakable rule of writing: Do whatever works. I still stand by that. At the same time, I’m very much in favor of hearing/reading other people’s opinions about what works and what doesn’t as a basis for artistic choice.

    Liked by 2 people

    • acflory

      High Five. Candy just said almost exactly the same thing. I do the same in my own writing, but I wonder, are we comfortable thumbing our noses at the ‘rules’ because we have a lifetime of /reading/ behind us?

      It’s a lot easier to do what works when you have a ‘feel’ for it based on thousands of stories read. I suspect a lot of younger writers latch onto these rules because they don’t trust their own judgement of what does and does not work.

      Liked by 1 person

      • marianallen

        I think you’re exactly right. So many of my students were baffled by conflicting advice, and stuck on their own writing because they were afraid of doing something “wrong”. If all I taught them was that advice was only advice, and you take it or leave it in service to what you’re writing, I was happy.

        Liked by 1 person

        • acflory

          Yes! My Dad taught me to use carpentry tools at a young age, and I can’t help seeing all the advice and guidelines etc as nothing but ‘tools’. Once you know how to use each tool, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to join two pieces with a hammer and nails, or glue, or screws and a screwdriver, or a fancy mortice and tenon joint!

          Ahem. I’ll slink off now. πŸ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

          • marianallen

            Slink back! Why slink away! Charlie did building and handyman work in the summers and after he retired from teaching, so it does my heart good to hear carpentry talk. πŸ™‚

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            Aaah. -hugs- I’m afraid the only thing I ever managed to build was a bookcase, but it is held together with dowels so not too shabby. These days I can fix things coz I have a lot of Dad’s old tools and some of my own…like a proper drill! He used to drill holes by hand. I think I still have the old hand drill somewhere.

            I was an only child and a chip off the old block so Dad taught me many of the things he would have taught a son. To be honest, I’ve always been glad he didn’t have one! All girls should learn how to fix things just as all boys should learn how to cook. Survival skills. πŸ™‚

            Liked by 1 person

          • marianallen

            Charlie taught our girls to be handy. They have their own tools, but have always borrowed some from his — kind of “the family tools”. These days, it makes us all cry, but kind of happy cry, you know?

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            I love that, Marian. Your Charlie sounds like such a wonderful man. And way ahead of his time too. I think that all our lives would be better if Dads taught their daughters to be strong competent women. -huge hugs-

            Liked by 1 person

          • marianallen

            He was the best (IMO). Certainly the best FOR ME. I’m so glad I told him so often. I don’t know how schools do in Australia, but schools around here have co-ed classes in Shop and Cooking.

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            -hugs- One of the schools the Offspring went to offered some basic woodworking but no cooking. Another offered cooking but nothing else that I’m aware of. Non-academic disciplines are slowly making their way into mainstream education but I don’t think the focus is on breaking down the gender stereotypes. I think it’s more to offer practical skills training for those who /aren’t/ academic. My Dad was waaaay ahead of his time in so many ways. I think your Charlie was too. Maybe in 100 years we’ll no longer have pink vs blue or Barbie vs toy trucks. -fingers crossed-

            Liked by 1 person

  • annabellefranklinauthor

    I like your sensible approach to the ‘rules’, which I prefer to think of as guidelines. Like you, I agree with some and not others. The ones I absolutely don’t agree with are the ones beginning with ‘never’. Never say never!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Yvonne Hertzberger

    Like most rules for writing they can all be broken carefully. There are a few I really disagree with, like the “said” only for dialogue.

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      Hi Yvonne. πŸ™‚ Yes, I agree. I’m sure that all these ‘rules’ started life as advice, explained in a nuanced way, but like Chinese whispers, they’ve become distorted with time and codified. Sadly, once even good advice becomes codified, it forces writers into a formulaic mould.

      Yes, those formulas may appeal to a large group of readers for a while, but even bestseller templates lose their effectiveness over time.

      Like

  • Berthold Gambrel

    I used to be live that minimizing descriptions the key to writing well. I remember being thrilled when I first read these rules and learned that famous writer Elmore Leonard agreed with me.

    So I wrote a book of short stories containing almost no description. And the response from readers was “where’s all the description?” (As my friend Pat Prescott put it, “Your stories are just skeletons. They need meat on those bones.”)

    I’m not a quick learner. I was sure I must have just made some other mistake. Readers couldn’t possibly really want description. So I wrote a novella that contained minimal description. And the readers said, “Dude, seriously, where is the description???”

    It was at this point that I realized my hypothesis was in fact wrong, and that having minimal description isn’t inherently good.

    Leonard knew this too, which is why he qualifies his rule by saying not to give “detailed” descriptions. But, he might have also added, “don’t give too little description, either.”

    …except of course, he must have realized that would sound silly. “Don’t give too much description, but also don’t give too little,” which is the correct advice, is also useless. Duh! Of course you should always give the right amount of description. The question is, what is that?

    Unfortunately, Elmore Leonard could not answer that for anyone except Elmore Leonard. Likewise for the rest of us, figuring out what is the right amount is entirely dependent on the kind of feeling we’re trying to evoke, and what sort of story we’re telling.

    A few points about the other rules:

    -Re. “no weather”: Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” begins “It was a bright cold day in April…”

    -Re. “no prologues”: “The Fellowship of the Ring” has a prologue, and I think it’s fairly popular. Readers seem willing to forgive it, at least. πŸ™‚

    There are some rules here that I’m inclined to agree with, but yet I’m quite sure someone could show me an example of them being broken, and the book being none the worse for it. So I treat them more as “suggestions” or “things to think about” than rules. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    • Berthold Gambrel

      Ugh, of course, that comment should begin “I used to BELIEVE,” not “be live”

      Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      -grin- I enjoyed this! I find descriptions rather hard to do, so my second pass is often to fill in the details. For me, how much detail has kind of evolved into ‘how much when’. I truly believe the human mind is incapable of taking in a whole lot of information at any one time. Instead, I think we built up a vision of people or place gradually, over time, so that’s what I try to do.
      Of course attempting to do something and always getting it right are two very different beasts.

      And thank you for those examples. What they prove, to me at least, is that the story is king. The devices used to create that story are just tools. Some writers use those tools like Masters. Some don’t. Throwing out the tool doesn’t make sense.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Yorgos KC

      I consider the prologue of the Fellowship of the Ring a masterpiece. πŸ€“
      It’s boring as hell and gives so many utterly useless information there is no way you’ll remember and they provide absolutely nothing to the story. Few, very few, are actually important pieces of information, but most are not.

      But by the time you finish this bloody chapter, there is no doubt in your mind that this Middle Earth is as real as the world around you. (not to mention that makes the rest of the book a really easy reading 🀣)

      Liked by 1 person

  • Books & Bonsai

    A classic reminder that all rules were made to be broken…

    Liked by 2 people

  • Sue Vincent

    Poor Lord Lytton… he gets slammed every time for that opening… though I agree, the first few words were enough.
    He is a great example, though, of a ‘dated’ writer. His style is such heavy going for modern readers that it is worse than swimming in porridge… yet his stories themselves are brilliant and worth reading.
    I agree with pretty much everything you have said here…

    Liked by 2 people

  • cagedunn

    Hmmmm, is the ‘suddenly’ a tell? Why, of course it is. All the adverbs that modify a verb are weak tells. If the story needs a weak tell at the risk of the reader skipping it, would it be worth leaving in (or is that one of the places where it can be chopped out)?

    However, I’ve seen an adverb used well when it modified an adjective. Made the vision spring to mind.

    The biggest problem for me with prologues is that most of them aren’t prologues. They’re either backstory (and info-dumps) or a fake-out. I read a story recently where the prologue was the climax of the story, and I had to read through several hundred pages (of backstory and tell and description and slow, thick words) to get to it before I knew what it was (and it was only told in the story, because we’ve already read it!) – so disappointing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      Yes, it is a tell, but on principle, I don’t think that tells are all bad. If something isn’t a critical part of the story, a simple tell gets the job done. For example, a paragraph spent ‘showing’ how someone brushes their teeth is just ridiculous, yet I’ve read stories that came close to that example thanks to a slavish adherence to the show rule. -shrug-

      Ad adverb modifying an adjective? How is that possible. I’m really curious now.

      I wish I could disagree re prologues but that’s often been my experience as well. I can’t think of one that’s been done well, not off the top of my head, but I’m sure there are examples.

      lol – I just remembered, an author I very much enjoy once said that he just called his prologues ‘chapter 1’. πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

      • cagedunn

        From Ray Rhamey: He found Emmaline to be annoyingly cheerful but pleasingly proficient.

        Gives so much more, in my view.

        I don’t think all tells are bad, but it seems a lot of stories are more tell than show. I like to experience the story as the character, so the things that are important to the story (progression, clues, characterisation, etc.) I like them shown. If they’re a matter of transition or unimportant or a rehash of something that’s gone previously, tells work better. Know when and why and how to use which one may well be one of the craft skills we learn by doing and finding our own best way.

        One author who does prologues well is the Robin Hobb stories, especially the Rain Wild series. I think I know why I like those, but I’ve heard people say different things about why they like them, so, as always, it’s up to the individual.

        Liked by 1 person

        • acflory

          Oh…massive high five! I love Robin Hobb, and the whole Farseer sequence? no idea what to call so many books set in the same world – is up there with my most favourite books. And yes, yes she does.
          I agree that we all have to find our own ‘sweet spot’ when it comes to balancing shows and tells. It can’t be taught. That said, we do get a feel for it from reading a lot. Stephen King is right about that. Then all we have to do is translate that feel into words…-smashes head on keyboard-

          Liked by 1 person

  • ChrisJamesAuthor

    I agree with most of the rules, I also agree with your opinions of them. The key is flexibility, finding our own workarounds. For example, while I “said” is absolutely the best to carry dialogue, I get around the adverb issue “said angrily” – which I really don’t like to read myself – by using “hissed” or “spat” to convey the character’s feelings. I think it is good to take these rules a base line and then start exploring in your own writing not exactly how to get around them, but how to make them work for you.

    Liked by 2 people

  • robertawrites235681907

    I’ve not seen this list of rules before and thought it interesting. I enjoyed your analysis, and would agree with most of your commentary. I do like descriptive writing but realise it is no longer vogue for modern readers who are always in a rush and don’t appreciate beautiful prose only action and dialogue. I’ve always known I was born in the wrong era.

    Liked by 2 people

  • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

    I wrote a 145 word prologue in the form of an excerpt from a New Yorker article.

    When asked, about half my readers said they hated prologues, half they didn’t mind them, so I suited myself, and left it in. If you don’t read it, you miss a key piece – but it doesn’t matter that much because you’ll probably also skip the epigraphs, and together they’re another layer of the story, but an outer one.

    Liked by 2 people

    • acflory

      I suspect most readers would not register that your 145 words were even a prologue. πŸ˜‰ They probably think, ‘oh..that’s interesting, I wonder what part that’s going to play in the story’.

      Both Miira and Vokhtah have prologues, but like yours, they’re short and I don’t label them as prologues. I’m sneaky like that. πŸ˜€

      I’m one of those readers who reads everything, and in fact, sometimes my favourite bits in a story aren’t even part of a chapter. One of the things I really liked about that 3 star book were the short snippets of history that graced the start of each chapter. But I may be a bit of an exception.

      We can’t please everyone and those who only want a quick read will never like the layers in our books. It’s inevitable. But are we really writing for them? Or are we writing for those readers who are like us and want more? With layered writing, the reader can dig as deep as they want. The decision is theirs, but at least they should be given the choice.

      Like

    • acflory

      p.s. why do I always think of things /after/ I press Send? Ahem…Talking of layers reminded me of the first Shrek movie. Both the [young] Offspring and I loved it because it was layered to appeal to a broad range of interests and age groups. I love layers. πŸ˜€

      Like

      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

        I am pathologically addicted to complex sentences with many clauses.

        Also to writing complex novels with a whole bunch of layers designed in from the beginning, and a few added as necessary.

        Liked by 1 person

        • acflory

          My first, best and only editor – are you listening Laurie – pulled me up on some of my own complex sentences. Now I read them out loud. If I can’t get through them without stumbling, I cut them.
          Not saying you should cut yours. From memory, your prose flows beautifully. My problem is that I instinctively write like a tech writer. Reading my words out loud forces me to humanize my writing.

          Like

          • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

            I have come to depend on the robot voice of my Mac to read things to me. If they don’t make sense or are too elaborate, they don’t survive that process.

            Lately I go through the listening part several times, including in parts and then as a whole. It takes a bit of time, but I’m listening, not writing during it, and like the results.

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            I know you /can/ get the computer to read back to you, but I’ve never actually tried it. Don’t you find that computer generated voice a bit annoying though?

            Like

          • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

            Not at all. It is a pretty decent effort to use inflection for a period or a question mark. It pauses at commas.

            It is quite usable. The point is to listen carefully to what it actually SAYS, not what you think you wrote. It doesn’t even take that long, and engages a completely different part of your brain, almost another person, as the proofreader.

            Why haven’t you tried it? It doesn’t hurt.

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            Totally agree with the process, but I want the sentences to have a certain musical quality about them as well. Not being arty farty, just saying that prose can be musical too. Sometimes it only requires one word instead of another. And I don’t mind reading out loud. πŸ™‚

            Like

          • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

            Reading out loud would exhaust me – and wouldn’t get around that I’m seeing what I think I’m seeing, after going through words too often.

            I was reluctant to let the ‘robot’ read to me, but they’ve gotten better (and are still often hilarious, which breaks it up).

            Now I can’t imagine not using it frequently and as soon as I need it; maybe it’s because the ability to work in-head is getting harder.

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            Isn’t that odd, for me, listening is the tiring thing. I think it might be because I’m starting to have trouble hearing speech when there’s any background distortion. I keep telling the Offspring to stop mumbling but I fear it may actually be me. lol

            Like

          • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

            Remember: I work one scene at a time. I’m only listening to one scene, and it’s a scene I’ve already spent too much time getting right. I can’t stand to look at it – and the editing needs doing. Listening is part of proofreading. The computer only reads what’s actually there, not what I want to be there.

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            Hmm…you know any change in format will help your brain see what’s actually there instead of what you think you wrote? I often copy my writing to the Kindle because suddenly it looks completely different and my brain goes…oops, typo! typo! Or sometimes, ‘what a load of bunk’. πŸ™‚

            Like

          • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

            It’s about 3am here – I’m not really coherent. Can’t sleep – just took painkillers. Don’t hold me to anything!

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            Aaah, I was wondering. I’m watching your replies pop into existence on my notifications list.
            I’m sorry you’re having a bad night. Headache?
            I’ll take painkillers when I have to, but I’ve found that Tiger Balm often works better. No idea why. Eases the pain and suddenly I’m asleep. Sorry, not sure if you can get it over there. It’s a camphor/menthol/something? You rub it on and it has a kind of cold burn. Good for muscles stress too.

            Like

          • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

            I’m heading for sleep – the pain is receding, and I’ll be able to.

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            I hope you’re still sleeping. Good morning from Australia.

            Like

          • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

            Had a good night total (over 6 hours) and one long nap in which I crashed – we’re getting there!

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            That sounds pretty good. Sleep makes such a huge difference. Hopefully you’ll sleep well tonight too. I find I can function after one night, but really hit my stride after 2.

            Like

          • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

            Since it is every muscle fiber and joint in my body at the same time (that’s the ME/CFS pain) + the leg/hip recurring problem which aches fiercely, I think I’d get skin poisoning if I rubbed enough or anything on.

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            Damn. 😦 I didn’t realise. -hugs-

            Like

          • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

            I ignore it when I can – it’s pretty much omnipresent. But I’d get no writing done if I let it have any more than I absolutely have to lose.

            It is what it is. We’re all hoping research done about post-viral syndromes such as long-covid will help those of us with the other syndromes. Could happen! But probably not soon.

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            Give the speed with which the vaccines were developed, I wouldn’t be too sure. Could be a lot of people needing help before this is over.

            Like

          • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

            I’m looking at the bright side, and then ignoring the rest – otherwise I get no work done.

            A lot of people ALREADY need this. They have been gaslighting us for over three decades. There being more of them now hasn’t stopped some people from telling them it’s not real.

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            I guess they do know, but manufacturing a pill isn’t the answer. That just helps with the symptoms. To truly make things better we would all have to change the toxic things we live with every day. So long as they’re ‘convenient’, most people will keep using them. I think that’s a big part of why they won’t admit there’s a problem. :/

            Like

      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

        Ditto. The 145-word prologue is actually part of a continuing frame – as seen from outside time and place of the story. The will be a piece at the end that wraps it up, about as crooked and biased as the rest of the pieces: the nice bias of the one who thinks they know everything because they have the vantage of time. Nope!

        Liked by 1 person

        • acflory

          -giggles- and that’s because…there will be a book three, won’t there?

          Like

          • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

            If God gives me life and brain.

            The problem is that so much of the third book is already written – but I have to get the current part of Book 2 finished before I get there.

            And then, all of it, I have to hope my readers don’t hate me. I really never saw any way but one.

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            Meh…I’m having the same problem with the Vokhtah monster. -sigh-

            This reader won’t hate you. :p

            So long as the story has an organic resolution – meaning that it grows out of what comes before – I’ll be happy. I have no doubt it will be beautiful. Any other labels are meaningless.

            Like

          • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

            It doesn’t have an organic resolution – that’s for you pantser types.

            Every word put into the story is to carry it from the beginning I chose to the end I chose in the best way I can.

            You who have read already KNOW how I work. I have trained you on every word that has gone already. You will know it’s the only way it could have been, will see all the clues (possibly in hindsight, if I have kept you busy enough), and will arrive where, I hope, you expect.

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            lmao – your process may not be organic, but the resolution will be precisely for those reasons. If it weren’t we’d be doing double takes and going ‘what the…?’ ‘where did that come from?’
            No way you’d do that so I have no fear. πŸ˜‰

            Like

          • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

            Sometimes I wonder!

            Then, if I make the effort, I can often trace it down. But the CONNECTION seems to come out of nowhere. I put a lot of stuff in. The connections must be linking somewhere in what’s left of my gray matter. I’ll take it. It’s the fun part of writing, when you come back to it years later and have trouble believing you wrote something.

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            Dear god…this! “when you come back to it years later and have trouble believing you wrote something.”
            I am convinced that most of our processing happens at the subconscious level, where we connect up the dots even when they’re not actually there – kind of holistic processing.

            Like

          • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

            Definitely. We can’t afford to do it consciously, but there is a lot of time when the brain is idling.

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            I used to be a night owl but as I’ve gotten older I’ve found that I write best first thing in the morning. That’s when the subconscious and the conscious seem to work best together, at least for me.

            Like

          • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

            I’ve oscillated through the years. Right now it takes my body all morning to get ‘on.’ So the writing, if it happens, tends to be mid-afternoon.

            Just wish I could exercise – or walk – or we could use our gym – or the county would let us back into the heated indoor pools – I’m going stir crazy.

            But tonight I made two large broccoli/Swiss/ham quiches, and a low carb cheesecake. That will last a while.

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            That sounds delicious! We had a big day so it was leftovers. Now I’m feeling peckish.

            Btw can you walk in the gardens? The one photo I’ve seen suggests that there are gardens there. Pity the establishment won’t let residents create and tend vegie plots. That can be such a satisfying thing to do.

            Anyway, you’ve inspired me. I’m going to make some cheese on toast then go to bed.
            I hope you get some sleep soon. -hugs-

            Like

          • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

            I can’t walk. But there are raised garden beds for those who want to garden – lots of people have one.

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            Ah. Sorry. I do know about your wheelie thingie but didn’t realise how constrained you were.
            I’m really glad the management put those garden beds in. Watching things grow, especially when you can eat them as a reward, it’s magic. πŸ™‚

            Like

  • Audrey Driscoll

    And thanks for linking to my dialogue tag post!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Audrey Driscoll

    You got a blog post out of E.L.’s rules! I agree with your thumbs up and down on these. One place I find exclamation points essential is when a character swears or exclaims or otherwise utters something in a loud voice. There’s a big difference between “I hate him” and “I hate him!” And the exclamation point does away with a dialogue tag, whether “said” or “yelled.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • acflory

      Oh absolutely! Thanks for pointing that out. We speak with exclamations all the time. Dialogue that doesn’t include exclamation marks as needed sounds really flat.
      I love ‘hearing’ the character’s voice in my head. Patois [if appropriate] and exclamation marks make dialogue sing, imho.

      Liked by 1 person

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