It's Sunday 3am in the blink of a town in the middle of nowhere. Bells, Tennessee. The sloths of death slowly creep their way toward her. Dragging their bodies of rotting flesh, humming their soulless moans. If the winds of fate blew her way tonight, she could expect to find Mr. Raglan's old blue pick-up parked out front of the Red Rooster. Faithfully he got drunk every Saturday night and walked home, too drunk to drive, always stashing his keys above the visor. Coming into the center of town she saw his truck parked across the street. The single red light in the center of town glowed an eerie red, swinging in the winds of fright. She waited, impatiently pressing the button to the crosswalk. Cussing and swearing for the little white man to permit her to safely pass. The moaning grew louder now from all around, behind her, in front of her, slowing surrounding her with only two yellow lines of freedom marking a path for her safe exit. "Damn you light, turn already" she cursed loudly. But it was too late, the zombies entered the crosswalk before she had a chance to cross. And as the zombies ripped away at her flesh, her white knight lighted her the way, seconds too late.
Bring on the bag lady. Hmm, are you scratching your head? Good, I like it when you do that. Here's my point, even at 3 am in the middle of nowhere with no one in sight and zombies fast on my heals....there are just some rules I can't break.
Warning: Ridiculously long post. Stop here unless you are ready to commit.
Shhh, don't tell my friends. I don't want to wreck my tough guy girl reputation to all of them. Not my cyber buddies but the friends who don't know I'm a writer and will actually never read this blog friends. If you asked all of Gw/1i's friends if she is a rule follower, they would probably laugh in your face followed up by a "Heck no!". Most of my friends like to think of me as the girl who rocks the boat, an off the cuff, take it or leave it kind of gal. This is true but I need parameters to function within or I get wigged out. Not to say that I don't bend rules or even break the rules but when I do, I better have a really good reason or the pit of my stomach blackens and yanks me into a void of dread.
Rules, guidelines, laws, etc are all governed by a body people who have created them to keep you safe, keep you in check or to guide you. There are just some rules that I can't break. I cannot enter a crosswalk until the little white walking man gives me permission. I don't care if the if is dystopia and I am the last person on earth. I can't do it.
Guidelines and parameters give me the warm fuzzies. Compiling guidelines about writing shows me the way to being a better writer. Especially one's from agents about "How to submit a Query." In one afternoon I was able to know, with confidence, how to submit a query, what it should look like, who to send it to, etc. etc. etc. So when I hear agents blog about what type of wrong queries are out there I'm thinking, why wouldn't you use your resources and I've a got pretty good shot of getting my manuscript at least read. (thanks to all the query uneducated) I also love when people blog their own tips and tricks, like how to "Identify your Characters" or "What not to say when an agent calls."
Though several blog clickings, I stumbled across this helpful tool. Grammar Girl: Quick and Dirty tips for Better Writing I found a tip on "How to Write your First Novel" Yes, I have already written my first novel and I am now on my second but I wanted to make sure I'm on the straight and narrow. And I think that we could all write our own five-steps of what we think should go into writing your first novel but for me, right now, this will do. So here, in brief, is Scott Sigler's five-step plan with my comments (too see his elaboration click on the previous link):
Step 1: Write every day
Oh the dread and guilt when I don't do this. Life (aka family) keeps me busy so I am not always able to do this. Not that I need to write or my soul will die but because I know that when I keep the craft up my writing tightens and it flows like liquid gold. Honey kind of gold that oozes and make you happy to be a writer.
Step 2: Write a bad book first
Check. Though I don't like to call it "bad" per say just not my best.
Step 3: Finish the bad book, then put it away for six months
And again check, minus the six months. My first novel sadly sits shelved before I was ready to let it go. Six months will probably unravel a whole new perspective I'm sure. Time heals all wounds. Unless you pick at it like a scab and that will only leave a nasty scar in the end.
Step 4: Start writing your “good” book
Yes, mmmm, the good book. My current WIP feels like my "good" book. Writing the synopsis, outline and other things seem clearer, smoother. This has a chance, I think. *crosses fingers* It's at least going to make it to the query stage, that is my goal.
Step 5: After six months, read that “bad” book, learn where you're weak, and address those weak areas.
I'm way ahead of you. Not that I won't do that again in six months I'm just saying I already see quite a few areas that I am weak and I am already working to improve.
To me, these steps are basic, nothing real earth shattering but they keep my writing in perspective.
So what rules do you live by? Break? Or guidelines you can't live without?
FYI...Bells, Tennessee is right next to the small town I grew up in. They only have one street light. Really.