Principles, Not Rules!

Author:
Publish date:

Remember the movie Adaptation? (Second mention of that movie in a week! I know!) There is a scene where two brothers are sitting around, talking about the craft and business of screenwriting. One brother is discussing screenwriting workshops he recently attended and singing their praises. The other brother warns against workshops and instructors, saying that anyone who says they possess all the rules of writing is lying, because "there are no rules."
The first brother counters, "Not rules, Charles. Principles. A rules says 'you must do it this way.' A principle says 'this way works, and has worked since the beginning of time.'"

Well that's what you have to keep in mind when reading my blog or others like mine. I, for one, speak in terms of principles, not rules. The thing is: Since there truly are no rules of writing, you can probably find a contradicting opinion to a lot of writing instruction, mine or others. You can't get every agent to agree on anything.

At past writers' conferences, I've heard agents say things such as:

1. "Oh, I will open unsolicited e-mail attachments."
Sending them is generally a big no-no.

And the mind-blowing:

2. "I wouldn't say you have to have the whole novel finished before querying."
Are you kidding? Can't we agree on anything???

Agents all have their little weird quirks that go against general principle. Some wants things this way. Others like to see this and that. You just have to look for these weird quirks in their submission instructions.
I am not an agent. I don't factor in a single agent's strange likes and weird quirks. I speak to you from having interviewed and met many, many agents and hearing their general advice and instructions for submitting. Just keep that in mind...

Image placeholder title

"Wow them in the end, and you've got a hit."

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Seven New Courses, Writing Prompts, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce seven new courses, our Editorial Calendar, and more!

Crystal Wilkinson: On The Vulnerability of Memoir Writing

Crystal Wilkinson: On The Vulnerability of Memoir Writing

Kentucky’s Poet Laureate Crystal Wilkinson discusses how each project has its own process and the difference between writing fiction and her new memoir, Perfect Black.

From Script

Approaching Comedy from a Personal Perspective and Tapping into Your Unique Writer’s Voice (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by ScriptMag.com, interviews with masters of comedy, screenwriter Tim Long ('The Simpsons') and writer-director Dan Mazer (Borat Subsequent Movie) about their collaboration on their film 'The Exchange', and filmmaker Trent O’Donnell on his new film 'Ride the Eagle' co-written with actor Jake Johnson ('New Girl'). Plus, tips on how to tap into your unique voice and more!

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Accepting Feedback on Your Writing

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Accepting Feedback on Your Writing

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is not accepting feedback on your writing.

Writer's Digest Best Creativity Websites 2021

Writer's Digest Best Creativity Websites 2021

Here are the top creativity websites as identified in the 23rd Annual 101 Best Websites from the May/June 2021 issue of Writer's Digest.

Poetic Forms

Englyn Proest Dalgron: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the englyn proest dalgron, a Welsh quatrain form.

What Is a Palindrome in Writing?

What Is a Palindrome in Writing?

In this post, we look at what a palindrome is when it comes to writing, including several examples of palindromes.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Set a Trap

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Set a Trap

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, it's time to set a trap.

5 Ways to Add a Refrain to Your Picture Books (and Why You Should)

5 Ways to Add a Refrain to Your Picture Books (and Why You Should)

Children's author Christine Evans shares how repetition is good for growing readers and gives you the tools to write your story's perfect refrain.