In a recent comments thread we kidded around with The Rules of Writing. That fun exchange — well, probably more fun for me — pushed me into thinking about the more serious Rules we have all discovered for making our writing better.
Today, I would like to start an official, concrete conversation about — The Rules of Writing
— you have learned and employed with success over the years. We won’t
number The Rules because that will quickly get out of sequence.
Please post your most important Rule first; then explain The Rule;
finish by providing an example. You may add another Rule later in
another comment. I’ll go first:
Good writing is always specific.
The singular is better than the plural; details specific to the one are always better felt than generalities about the group.
“They walked over there” is not as good as
“Johnny picked up his bloody rifle from the pavement with a trembling
hand; Nicky wiped tacky blood from the muzzle of her smoking pistol on
her skirt, and together they limped across the street: Johnny, dripping
blood from the gaping wound where his kneecap used to be, moaned with
each small step while Nicky, clutching the stump of an arm where her
elbow was now dripping tatters, kicked him hard in his good leg with
the glistening steel tip of her patent leather boot.”