rules of engagement.

crowd 1.jpg

Do you see these people^^^^^^^^^^ ?

They have come to hear a good story.

Let's not let them down.

There a lot of great writing rules out there. This is just my stab. (Commentary included.) 

1.       Tell the story straightforward in time, without much, or any backstory.  (That said, if the backstory is seriously intriguing, just tell it. It doesn't really matter what's backstory and what's not, as long as it's tense.)

2.       Use simple, clear words, aimed at communicating clearly with the reader, rather than expressing something creatively. (Then again, if you have something breathtakingly creative to express, you should probably just go for it.)

3.       Use cliffhangers at the end of every chapter, so the reader will almost turn the pages by instinct.  (Some may call this pure gimmick. Others will call this pure craftsmanship.)

4.       Seek scenes that will force characters to say or do what they most crave to say or do. Everyone has a nuclear reactor at their core, and while you would never seek to tamper with said reactor in real life, as a writer, your absolutely must.  

5.       If possible, compact the story into a short time frame, where each action directly causes the next. (This rule can be broken by people more talented than me.)

6.       You are as an ancient storyteller, standing before the fire, in the mouth of a cave. Your job is to relieve your fellow cavemen and women of the burden of their own consciousness. (I stole this from David Mamet.)

7.       No physical descriptions shall appear, beyond the bare minimum, unless they advance the story in some way, or illuminate a critical aspect of character.  (Or, unless they are utterly joyful, or insanely  irresistible.)

8.       Feature characters with bottomless desire, facing obstacle after obstacle.  (Also, people who seem normal, but you illuminate their weirdness[ or people who seem weird, and yet you illuminate their familiarity.)

9.       If I'm not excited about telling it, you won't be excited about hearing it.

10.     Remember, and this is the most important rule: The reader is a person, just like you. It's like you're sitting next to them on a 6 hour car trip. Take care of them. Help them understand. Keep them entertained. Do not waste their time. Be a good companion. (And if shattering any of the other nine rules will help you follow this last rule, then shatter with prejudice.)