Writer Guidelines

Writer C.J. Cherryh says that “no rule should be followed off a cliff.” She refers here to the rules of writing and good grammar. But she also mentions this with respect to her own guidelines, some of which she conveys on this page. Good stuff. And a good reminder that though I’ve come a long way since stumbling upon and then imitating the pulpy, blood-drenched fiction of Robert E. Howard I still have a lot to learn. I like what she says here:

With apologies to hard-working English teachers, school English is not fiction English.

Understand that the meticulous English style you labored over in school, including the use of complete sentences and the structure of classic theme-sentence paragraphs, was directed toward the production of non-fiction reports, resumes, and other non-fiction applications.

The first thing you have to do to write fiction? Suspect all the English style you learned in school and violate rules at need. Many of those rules will turn out to apply; many won’t.

{Be ready to defend your choices. If you are lucky, you will be copyedited. Occasionally the copyeditor will be technically right but fictionally wrong and you will have to tell your editor why you want that particular expression left alone.}

About the author: will

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