I’m preparing to leave for my second writer’s conference this year. I’ll be on my way to Florida on Thursday, hoping for warm sunny weather. But before I go, I want to give you something fun to read. Take a look at this article.

I love lists like this. I’ve seen Elmore Leonard’s list of rules before and some of his are also mine. Particularly the obnoxious offering up a weather report on page one. I hate that. I do not favor prologues either, mainly because they’re so overdone.

Some of the other writers in this article have some great “rules,” that would be good for discussion in a later blog. Do you see something here that strikes you as very wise….or perhaps one you disagree with?

I disagree with several. One obvious one is Richard Ford’s second point:

2. Don’t have children.

I’m hopeful he’s joking, but I have to say that over the years I’ve gotten a lot of material from my kids and now my grandkids.

4 replies
  1. Shannon Dittemore
    Shannon Dittemore says:

    This list IS fun! I totally dig numbers 9 and 10… scrap the stuff readers skip, and ditto for all the exposition about trees and roads… who cares?

    On principle, I must argue for Prologues. I will concede that people get carried away at times, but they can actually be a great way to make a promise to the reader about upcoming action. In this way, they can be very useful.

    Hey, Nick – any thoughts on Dekker’s FB post about Steeple Hill’s guidelines? Just curious…


  2. Nick
    Nick says:

    Shannon, I heard about Ted’s comments, but never did see them. I just went to his website and I don’t see them there. As I understand it, he takes issue with Steeple Hill’s guidelines.

    I don’t have much of an opinion on the issue. He’s welcome to his opinion, but I don’t share it.

    I heard Ted speak at a conference once, and he’s a dynamic speaker, but I’m not a reader of his books.

  3. Tina Dee
    Tina Dee says:

    I love lists. The guidelines they can provide to help make something good something much better, even great.

    But, as far as reading/being a reader goes, if a writer can put me in the skin of the character, make me wonder what’s going to happen next to us in the story, keep me from wanting to participate in real life because I have to get through ‘one more page’ with the character – then I don’t mind if any rules or lists or guidelines were met. It met the only rule I have, and that’s to give me an extraordinary experience from inside the front cover to beyond the back cover. Then, it was worth the money I plunked down and then some.

    That being said, I do appreciate lists. One I didn’t like from the linked list was three exclamations points/100,000 words. We use more than that in real life in our 100,000 words spoken/heard.

    Now I must go to my ms…to count and purge some exclamation points. Three may be a little low, but I think I’m many times over that, lol.


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