The Golden Rules of Writing | Teen Ink

The Golden Rules of Writing

October 8, 2012
By Novelist123 BRONZE, Buffalo Grove, Illinois
Novelist123 BRONZE, Buffalo Grove, Illinois
3 articles 7 photos 26 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Dreams, goals, ambitions - these are the stuff man uses for fuel."
L. Ron Hubbard
US author & science fiction novelist (1911 - 1986)

While writing, one tends to find the same tricks being said, from multiple resources. The Golden Rules of Writing are compiled in this essay, and if anyone wants to be a great writer, you’ve got to follow these.

Rule #1: No Clichés

Now, when one says no clichés, they aren’t saying, “never use ‘her smile was as bright as the sun’”. Clichés are everywhere. Yes, the clichéd phrases are awful, but there are also clichéd plot lines (the quest), which, while the meat is interesting, they’re also rather predictable (the hero is going to be okay, and everyone knows it). Also, clichéd characters (the smart one, the good/kind one who everyone loves, the evil one, the evil henchman, the list goes on) can be boring, static, and completely flat-faced.
So, let’s go into this in depth. The clichéd phrases. Easy to fix, right? Well, not really. Though we think we know all the clichés, we don’t. They can be as simple as:

Stars like diamonds
At the last minute
As far as the eye can see
All hell broke loose
A broken heart
A soul full of sorrow
Back stabber
Baited Breath
A weary heart

Okay, so clearly there’s a lot. If you see any of these in your writing take them out. Now! These lose their meaning, and they just aren’t that interesting. Think outside the box (which is a cliché)! Say it in a new way, and everyone will applaud you for seeing something in a new way. But how do you know if it’s a cliché? If you know the phrase and not the individual word. Think in words, not phrases!

Clichéd plot lines are also horribly predictable. If it’s in more than two books, than it’s a cliché. Quest, girl with boy problems, corrupt government. The way you make yourself stand out is by stepping away from this. Or, instead of ending it like everyone else, end it in a crazy new way. Like in 1984, there’s a corrupt Party who controls everything that the people do, and so the main character silently rebels. But, he doesn’t make it out in the end. In the end, he’s brainwashed into loving the party, before dying. Now talk about thought provoking! Don’t have the girl get the guy. Have the girl learn that she’s better than him, or if you really want to get out there, have her learn that she’s a lesbian anyway. These crazy endings make you unique!

And clichéd characters. Though maybe not the worse, they can be awfully boring.
The following are some overused examples:

The Good Guy (the one who always knows good will beat evil)
The Evil Guy (trying to kill/ hurt good guy)
Friend/ Confidante
Smart Person/ Mentor, who knows everything
Mary Sue (perfect girl)

Yes you can’t eliminate these people from your writing. All five of the examples are in almost every novel. But make them unique! Make them different by having the smart person/ mentor know barely anything. Have the confidante really be the bad guy. Have the good guy be more of an anti-hero. Do something to make them your own!

The exception to the rule: sometimes you need a good cliché. It gets to the point quickly. Just be careful with it.

Rule #2: Stay Away From Abstraction

I know you poetry writers are just dying to talk about how love always beats evil, war tears us apart, and how we should see each other by what’s in the inside. Wow, I’m already yawning.
Please, please, please, when you’re writing focus on the imagery and the story and be more discrete with what you really want us to get from it.
Show don’t tell! All writers bow down to this phrase everyday! So, though some may say otherwise, in my opinion, the most thought-provoking pieces are the ones where they evoke these themes all on their own!

The exception to the rule: when you do it J.K. Rowling style; have one person try to convince another of the theme, in a subtle sort of way. Again, the rule is subtlety!

Rule #3: Know Where You’re Going

Whatever you’re doing, don’t just go with it. Know where you’re going, each and every part of it! Otherwise you’ll create some fatal flaw to your story, and that will be the end of that.

The exception to the rule: if you’re writing it all in one sitting.

Rule #4: Don’t Put Humor Over Writing

I see all the time in English class, someone putting humor over logical writing. Sure it’s funny and entertaining for a second, but it’s so forgettable. It becomes old. If it’s logic or humor, go for logic.

The exception to the rule: non-fiction writing, humor writing (where the genre itself always chooses humor over logic), and narratives (because it’s forced to be realistic).

Rule #5: Vary Sentence Structure

Don’t make it boring, plain and simple. Do it through long and short sentences, putting verbs in front of sentences, anything! Make it interesting!

The exception to the rule: Maybe non-fiction writing, but otherwise there is none.

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