Writers: What Are Your Rules?

Want to know a secret?

Everyone who buys Second Sight gets not only the book, not only my never-before-published talks on character, principles of plot, and voice, not only my full list of Twenty-Five Revision Techniques in one handy place, not only some so-terrible-they're-funny pictures of me -- but, at the very end, a link to a secret page on my website where I'm compiling more resources like the ones in the book. While this does include links to all my past talks and a quasi-index by subject to this blog,  these resources aren't just things that I've written. Rather, it's craft stuff that I find all over the Internet that I think writers should read. I've basically indexed Jennifer Crusie's website, too, and I should do the same for Nathan Bransford, and then there's this great post by Erin Murphy on how to define success . . . I like having this page as a list of all the resources I return to again and again; having it available to Second Sight readers is just an added bonus for everyone.

Anyway, I started a new section tonight called "Other People's Principles." Basically, I'm trying to put together a list of all of those "Rules for Writers" articles by various famous writers, for instance:

I always love reading these and occasionally adopt a rule or two for my own, though at the same time, I think those principles are best applied to the work of the writers who espouse them. . . . Contra Monsieur Leonard, sometimes books need prologues. Anyway again, in looking at this list, I realized that everyone I have on here is a writer of adult fiction, and indeed the only people who tend to write these kinds of lists are writers of adult fiction, because generally writers of children's and YA fiction aren't accorded the literary respect that would lead to their being asked "Hey, what are your rules for writing fiction?" by a major media outlet.

And you know what? That is stupid, because God knows the children's/YA world has as many smart writers with interesting principles as the adult world does, and indeed the peculiar nature of writing fiction for children and teenagers should require our principles to be more interesting than, say, "Don't use adverbs." (Which is a good principle, but one that needs to be thoughtfully qualified, as it can lead to deadly dullness.) (And you see what I did there . . .)

Anyway again again, I'm asking:  Authors of children's and YA fiction:  If the New York Times came to you and asked you to write a "Writers on Writing" essay like Mr. Leonard's, what would you say? What principles, large or small, guide your storytelling? What are your ten rules for writers? I'd like to know, and I bet other writers would as well. And I think it's a fascinating exercise always to dig down and find your unconscious lodestones. . . .

So, if you want to participate, feel free to write up and post your list of principles on your blog/LJ and put the link in the comments below; or, if you don't have a blog/LJ, you can write the principles themselves in the comments. (If you're reading this on Facebook, please click this link to post the comments on the blog post itself and not in Facebook comments; that way everyone can read them.) I will be excited to see what people say, and I hope all of us can learn new things from one another.

Thank you for your interest and participation!