For the last stream, we did something that I’ve been wanting to do for a while: create the Ten Writing Commandments.
I’d put it off until we as a stream had written and read enough material for me to feel comfortable writing them up. I jotted down a few ideas before the stream started, but as always, chat was the real star with their suggestions.
After a long brainstorming session with good discussions and questions, we wrote our Ten Commandments.
Here’s what we came up with:
1) Thou shalt understand thine first draft sucks. And second draft. And third. No exceptions. However, thou shalt stay positive and appreciative in the face of criticism and feedback.
2) Thou shalt not start thine story with a dream, flashback, or prologue. At best, thine readers will be disappointed when they start your “main story,” at worst, they will be bored, confused, and stop reading.
3) Thou shalt set the scene and tone of thine story by giving the “who, what, when, where, and hook” in the first one to three paragraphs.
4) Thou shalt stay in the present day of thine story for at least the entire first chapter, forsaking all backstory, history, and exposition.
5) Thou shalt not rush through thine story. Thou shalt take time to describe new things every time the “who, what, when, or where” changes.
6) Thou shalt always show who is talking and where they are before giving dialogue.
7) Thou shalt use body language to break up dialogue whenever possible, forsaking the overuse of the word “said” and other awkward replacements. (Such as “laughed,” “shrugged,” “grimaced,” etc.)
8) Thou shalt neither over-describe nor under-describe things. Thou shalt use a maximum of two adjectives to describe a noun, and use a good verb over any adjectives whenever possible.
9) Thou shalt not describe things in terms of the narrator experiencing them, but instead giving the experiences agency. (Instead of “Tom felt a cold breeze blow on his cheek,” try “A cold breeze blew on Tom’s cheek,” or instead of “Sally saw fireworks in the sky,” try “Fireworks exploded in the sky.”)
10) Thou shalt give your characters, especially your protagonist, meaningful weaknesses, flaws, hopes and aspirations.
I really like all of these commandments. Most of them are things directly connected to the writing process (as opposed to the planning/publishing process), and things beginners might not be aware of (as opposed to grammatical/formatting things).
I’m looking forward to referring to the commandments during freehshare from now on, and of course to have chat refer me to them when I break them myself.
After that we moved on to today’s prompt, and chat voted for this image prompt submitted by JoshuaIn3D: (click here to see the image)
Our third image prompt in a row! There’s just something about pictures that gets people excited, I suppose. But this one was very different from our previous image prompts. Since this was a comic, it had multiple panels and dialogue as well.
Chat had a bunch of great ideas for how to take this one, and the only hard part was choosing which ones to use. I really like how it turned out, giving a funny continuation of the story with a perfect ending.
If you want to join us and help write a story by trolling in chat, or share your own writing for feedback, then we’d love to have you. We stream on Twitch every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday at 7:30pm-10:30pm (U.S. Eastern Standard Time).
Hope to see you next time, friend!
Scott Wilson is the author of the novel Metl: The ANGEL Weapon, forthcoming November 2018.
Featured image: YouTube/Livingholyfor YAH