There are no rules, except…

Almost every writer will tell you how to write your story.  You see it’s not so much that they want to co-opt your story and take it from you as they can’t get away from the way they would write it.  I suffer from that problem often and it takes quite an effort to keep from doing it.  So any advice any writer gives you, take what works for you from it.  That includes my advice.

The most important thing every writer needs to know is not so much what rules there are or what method to follow, whether to write on a computer by keyboard or by voice, whether to follow the Oxford Rules of Style or UPI Rules or the Chicago Rules, or some other rules but to own what you write.  I don’t mean just owning the publishing rights, but to own it because the story is yours.

You’re writing it.  What you put in it or don’t put in it is your choice.  When you own it, don’t second guess yourself.  If a scene or character doesn’t work, or a subplot, feel free to get rid of it.  Don’t worry about whether what you put in it will attract the big audiences and big bucks.  There’s no way you can really copy tastes or make what you write attractive to everyone, or even anyone.  What thousands of readers will like from one writer they can’t stand from another writer.

So don’t worry about success, don’t dream about success, don’t get upset when your concept of success fails.  The only real success is if you’re satisfied with your story and if someone else reads it.

Author Ray Bradbury, a favorite of mine who passed away just a year or two back, said not to worry about success or making money from writing.  He said that every artist, whether writing, dancing, singing, drawing, painting, or whatever, shouldn’t expect wild success or big bucks for the first ten or fifteen years of their career.  That it takes time to develop an audience.

So, keep writing, keep thinking, keep working.  If you get moderate success and your next project fails, keep trying.  Or if you have a string of failures, don’t worry.  Something will work out.

The mother of one of my friends, her father sold hats.  That was long ago and far away, somewhere in the middle or beginning of the 20th Century.  His belief was that there was a head for every hat and a hat for every head.  Some times he had to wait and wait and wait for someone to like and buy a certain hat.

The same thing is true with any art.  There’s a story for every audience.

So…what about my title?

There are no rules in writing fiction.  And yet, there are rules.  Good grammar and good spelling is a must; don’t confuse your readers.  Learn to edit and to edit well.  Editing is a major part of good writing.  Get so good at it that you do it without thinking about it.  Learn how to tell a good story and don’t leave anything out unless you intend to write a sequel.

Again, don’t confuse your readers.  Begin well and end well.  And don’t give up.  Don’t expect anything other than good.

What do I mean by expecting good?  Just that.  Expect good things to happen.  Readers (fans) may take a while, maybe even years.  But don’t give up.  Write, write, write.  Write the hell outta things.  And expect people to like and read your stories.  There’s an audience for everyone.  The thing about an audience is that while you continue to deliver good stories, your audience will grow.  Start expecting your audience to like any old piece of garbage or crap you throw at them and watch your audience fade away.

Don’t take your audience for granted.  Only a few people have been God’s gift to humanity.  God’s gifts are usually individual in nature.  So don’t expect to be God’s gift to the world, cause you won’t be.

That’s it.  Oh, and own your stories.  Take responsibility for them.  If you fail miserably don’t blame someone else.  Just start over.

Writing should be a pleasure, not a curse.  The curse is self-righteousness and self-doubt.

Good luck!

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