Creative A’s 10 Rules of Writing

A few days ago I was reading Creative A’s blog and came across this fantastic list. With his permission, I have reprinted it here. I fully believe in this list and think that if anyone sticks to the rules, their writing will instantly improve.



The other day I was at Barnes&Noble and I picked up a copy of Elmore Leonard’s book “10 Rules of Writing.” The first few rules were good, but the rest didn’t seem that important to me. I started thinking about what I thought were the real top 10 rules of writing. And here they are.

Rule #1: Write every day.

Rule #2: Show, don’t tell.

Rule #3: Never use two words if you can use one

Rule #4: Write what you want to read.

Rule #5: Write what you know.

Rule #6: Don’t start a story with…

A: A dream

B: A weather report

C: A really cool scene that has nothing to do with the rest of the story

D: A coffee scene, where the MC drinks coffee and muses about his/her life.

Rule #7: Don’t write dialogue with…

A: Lots of “said” modifiers like “softly” or “smilingly.”

B: Lots of “said” replacements like “chortled” or “retorted.”

C: Lots of pointless action that makes your character sound twitchy – raised eyebrows, followed by a frown, followed by a grin, followed by rapid blinking; etc.

D: Lots of exclamation points or questions marks, often clumped or mashed

up like this – “!?” “!!!” “???”

Rule #8: Focus on writing your story, not publishing it.

Rule #9: Get two kinds of betas – ones that will praise you unconditionally, and ones that will cut your story to shreds, because you need both.

Rule #10: Give your best now; don’t save it for later. Later will never come.

So what about you? What are your rules?

-Creative A


  1. Hmm… I just kind of make up my rules as I go along, though as it happens, a lot of those are my rules.

    Also, since I’m generally good at dialogue (and know it) I have to add: Watch out for talking heads.

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