Welcome to the blog!
……Here’s what’s what.
My name is Dave Workman. I’m an acquisitions and content editor for Muse Harbor Publishing. I began writing Rules of Engagement for beginning (or curious) writers, based on what I perceive to be fundamental obstacles that many of us confront when starting, or struggling through, a new novel. Perhaps I can offer useful advice—or maybe not—although I certainly know what excites me as a reader, and what excites me as an editor who accepts or rejects manuscripts. Thus, these following notes may be worth a look.
1. Good Writing, Bad Advice.
Rule #1: Finish your book.
Rule #2: Don’t listen to anybody if the advice doesn’t resonate.
2. Simple, But Exciting (Part 1)
Rule #7: Write in clear, precise sentences.
Rule #8: Keep your characters moving. (Either push your characters toward drama or pull them away again.)
3. Simple, But Exciting (Part 2)
Rule #5: Continually scene set, character build or move the plot forward. (Nothing else matters.)
4. Exciting, But Simple.
Rule #3. Always write for yourself.
5. Active Writing (Part 1): Active Voice.
Rule #20: Don’t extend a scene past the “just enough” point.
Rule #12: Write only what matters. Leave out the boring parts.
6. Active Writing (Part 2): Active Language (Grammar).
Rule #6: The Jumping Cow Rule (Active vs. Passive Voice).
7. Active Writing (Part 3): Active Composition (Plotting)
Rule #14: Develop your story from A-to-Z. (Know where you’re going.)
8. Where To Start.
Rule #11: Get acquainted with your story. (Discover your core elements.)
Rule #25: Perfection in writing doesn’t exist.
Rule #4: Do the best you can.
Rule #10: In fiction, for every action, provide a reaction.
12. What’s Your Intention?
Rule #29: Your characters may remain elusive or distracted, but your prose must remain clear and concise.
13. Focus on the Now.
Rule #16: Focus on the now. (Stay in the moment.)
14. Hammering It Out.
Rule #28: Write one thought at a time. (And don’t worry about the rest.)
15. My Favorite Films About Writers and Writing (A personal aside.)
16. Finding Your Voice (Part 1) Find a style and stick with it.
Rule #9: A great novel is not so much what you tell, but how you tell it. That’s a writer’s style.
17. Finding Your Voice (Part 2): Do your characters speak to you?
Rule #12: Shut up and let your characters tell their own stories.
18. Finding Your Voice (Part 3). Point of View: Narrative vs. Authorial Voice.
19. Basic Plotting (Part 1): Right Brain (creative thinking) vs. Left Brain (critical thinking). Unfortunately, we need both halves.
20. Basic Plotting (Part 2): Plot Ahead.
21. Basic Plotting (Part 3): It’s all about the drama, dahlings.
Rule #27. Make drama your novel’s constant companion.
22. Action vs. Information: The Oil & Water of Novel Writing.
Rule #26: Don’t mix Action and Information scenes. Keep these two incompatible concepts (relatively) separate.
23. Dialogue (Part 1): Writing Great Dialogue: An Absolute Necessity.
Rule #30: Create dialogue that (like plotting) accomplishes one of three specific goals: 1) Sets a scene; 2) Develops a character or; 3) Moves the plot forward.
24. Dialogue (Part 2): Writing Great Dialogue: Balancing reality and fiction.
Rule #39: Never reveal too much relevant information too quickly.
Rule #39A: …but relevant or not, always keep dialogue witty and interesting.
25. Dialogue (Part 3): Writing Great Dialogue isn’t about epic plotting. It’s simpler than that. Rule #41: Great fiction isn’t about ‘what happens.’ It’s about ‘what happens to people.’
26. Dialogue (Part 4): Dialogue vs. Monologue. The key to precise communication with your readers is knowing when to use what: Dialogue is an information exchange between two or more characters; Monologue is a private exchange between a character and the reader; Omniscient Narration is an exchange between the writer and the reader.
27. Dialogue (Part 5): Writing Great Dialogue in First Person (POV).
Rule #45: First Person POV readers aren’t expecting absolute authenticity so much as absolute personality.
28. Dialogue (Part 6A): The Q. & A. page.
Rule #48: Don’t use dialogue as an alternative to directly depicting action or drama.
29. Dialogue (Part 6B): The Q. & A. page (Cont’d).
30. Dialogue (Part 7): Attribution. The ‘he said/she said’ of writing dialogue.
Rule #55: Don’t just write dialogue, write active dialogue. Avoid ‘talking heads’ scenes by maintaining visual stimulation or momentum during scenes of intense dialogue.