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  • 50 Rules For Readers…

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    Over the years I’ve made no secret of the fact that I think pedantic books, blogs, and other such aggregations of verbiage on the subject of “How To Write” are the worst kind of ridiculous. This is one of the reasons that whenever I find myself writing a blog of said type, it is far from pedantic and delivered with tongue planted firmly in cheek – even if the advice happens to be sound.

    The simple fact of the matter is that once you learn the mechanics of word usage, grammar, etc, you are done. From that point on either you have the talent or you don’t. No set of rules, book, or sage advice from King, Leonard, Sellars, ad nauseum is ever going to turn you into a writer. You can either write, or you can’t. It’s that simple. Other than the basic conventions of grammar – which can be broken when necessary – there are no rules.

    This, however, doesn’t stop people from prattling on about such advice and the like. They simply cannot get the idea of “no rules” through their skulls. In fact, the whole “How To Be A Writer” book industry is a big one, filled with charlatans out to make a quick buck. If I was smart I would pen one of these tomes myself and make a million dollars fleecing folks who sincerely believe a book about writing will turn them into a novelist.

    But then, I’m a novelist by trade, not a money grubbing asshole. For me, being an asshole is just a hobby and I have no desire to muck about with my amateur status in that department.

    So… Why am I going on about this?

    Well, you see, I recently ran across a Tweet that contained a link to a blog. Said blog entry that was being touted happened to be “50 Don’ts For Writers.” I followed the link out of curiosity. In reality, the folks behind the blog had 40 rules and they wanted their readers to come up with the other 10.  Sort of a marketing gimmick to get more traffic to their blog.

    Ostensibly, these were rules for writers that were created by readers.

    Now, some of these rules – a very small percentage of them, mind you – were common sense. Of course, I realize that not everyone has common sense, which in its own way would seem to lend credence to such a list of rules. However, here’s a newsflash: Just like talent, you can’t teach common sense either.

    I know. That truly sucks, but it’s a fact of life. You’ve either got common sense, or you don’t. Deal with it.

    The majority of these “rules,” however, were the personal pet peeves and whiny demands based upon those pet peeves of the bloggers involved. The only rule that really made an iota of sense – including those few that were common sense to begin with – was something akin to:

    “You’re the artist (writer). Ignore these rules and write the book you want to write.”

    I’m paraphrasing a bit because I really don’t feel like looking up the link and wading through the whiny drivel all over again, but you get the drift.

    At any rate, after reading this lunacy I decided that if readers really felt they had some sort of inalienable right to start issuing sets of rules that writers are supposed to follow, perhaps we writers should do the same – in reverse, of course. Therefore, after thinking long and hard about the subject, I came up with the following “50 Rules For Readers.”

    50 Rules For Readers

    1. If you don’t like the book you are reading that’s fine. Not every book will appeal to every person. So, your best bet is to quit complaining, put it down, and pick up a different book. There are plenty of them out there from which to choose. If you keep reading a book you don’t like it’s not the  author’s fault, it’s yours. You have nobody to blame but yourself.

    2 … 50. See Rule #1

    There… I think my set of 50 rules are way easier than theirs. However, I am also the first to admit that mine are also common sense. But hey, at least I didn’t whine…

    More to come…

    Murv