Childish Nonsense

Exploring Children's Literature

Just What Are the Rules?

on May 22, 2015


Random thoughts.

Cardinal rules for writing almost always start with “Write what you know.” My biggest problem with this is that most, if not all, of us lead pretty boring lives. Was it John Lennon who said, “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans”? This past week has been a whirlwind. May usually is. I look at my calendar daily and still don’t do anything I think would be of much interest in a book. Who wants to read about taking my dog to the groomer? I guess there are moments in everyone’s life that spark something interesting, but you have to think a certain way to see them. And I guess that’s where the mind of a writer comes in handy. We all look at things a little differently than most people. Costumes on the street – no problem. Enjoying standing in the rain – even better. Accidents become an opportunity to meet people.

And this boring life also makes it difficult to come up with the conflict necessary to a story. I kid with my mother that she made my writing life difficult when she gave me a happy childhood. How am I supposed to resolve problems when I can’t even imagine problems? Seriously, though, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Another rule I find really funny is “Just because it’s true doesn’t make it believable.” I think this follows directly from “Truth is stranger than fiction.” This applies to conversation as well as plot points. Can you imagine trying to read dialogue that sounds like a real person talking? “Umm, well, I think maybe yeah” and “Nice weather we’re having” would appear a lot.

So, spout your rules if you must, but mostly just write.


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