Basic Rules of Writing

There are some basic rules of writing. When I speak of these rules, I don’t mean “use complete sentences” or “avoid run-on sentences” or “watch your grammar and spelling.” I am also not talking about “write what you know” and rules like that. I am talking about the basic meta-rules of writing, rules that encompass the whole of a work, no matter its form. These rules are taken from the Rules of Technical Writing, but I find that they can be applied anywhere, including in fiction writing.

So, there are five things that any work of writing, including creative writing, should be:

Clear
Concise
Ethical
User Centered
Revised

Each link will lead you to an explanation of just what I mean. Or, you can just scroll down to the appropriate post. These are the specific rules of Technical Writing, applied to the contract that the fiction writer should make with the reader.

That is, in essence, what a book is. It is not just a window to another world. It is also a contract that you are making. Make no mistake. As fiction writers, we are the penultimate liars. Our whole job is to deceive our reader into believing in a new reality, the reality of our book. That does not mean, however, that our readers do not have certain expectations from us as writers and that we do not have certain obligations. The above five rules are helpful in meeting that contract, no matter how deceitful your work must be.

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