Jamie Wells

An authors journey

Category: Journey

Heinlin’s Rules

Reading on Reddit someone mentioned Heinlin’s laws of writing. To save suspense, because it’s a blog post, not a novel. Here they are:

  1. You must write.
  2. Finish what you start
  3. You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order
  4. You must put your story on the market
  5. You must keep it on the market until it has sold
  6. Start working on something else

Unfortunately, I have broken these rules. I was stuck on a story about Demons for 6 months, which did nothing for me. I should have worked on Futurecraft instead. But I went through the motions of editing, rewriting in places, adding and deleting until I had something that even I hated.

What I should have done is write another 5 other short stories, and finished Futurecraft. And because I was editing, I stopped writing, breaking rule one.

Now, moving forward, I will adhere to Heinlin’s laws. I hope you do too.

You can see for yourself, how I did. Here are the introductory few paragraphs of version one:

Our bare red feet were sending up clouds of dust as we walked down the road to the bronzing chamber. It was Greg’s time. Reaching out a hand to rub his scalp, I sighed. He looked at me with his black eyes and said,

“Morderth, will it hurt?”

I have seen it happen. I have done this to hundreds of thousands of hatchlings. I watched them scream until they could scream no more, I watched them pound on the glass until their little red hands bled, I watched them scratch at their coal black eyes, I watched them pull off the flaps of their ears from atop their heads, and I watched them stare at me without expression; a few begged for mercy and I asked them, where will you go? Those were the worst. All of them I knew, some of whom I would call my friends. After we bronzed them, they were all the same. I sighed.

“No,” I said.

Here is version ten:

Our red feet slapped the ground sending up clouds of dust into night while we marched to the bronzing chamber, dirtying my only shirt. I reached out my clawed hand and rubbed Greg’s scalp. No horns. I checked them for horns before bronzing.

“Morderth, does bronzing hurt?”

Greg puffed his cheeks and exhaled. His solid black eyes stared out into the distance.

Does bronzing hurt them? I watched them scream my name while they were being bronzed. I watched them pound on the door, staring at me, their red hands bleeding. I watched them pull at the flaps of their little ears. Others covered their eyes and cried.  Did bronzing hurt?

“No, Greg.”

I can see a difference, but between 10 edits, is number 10 better than number one? Eh. Was I a much better writer after version 10 than I was at one? No. The reason why is because I was editing, not writing. The plot did not change, and the entire work stayed largely the same. The flaws were there in the beginning of the work, and nothing could change that besides a re-write.

I hope you found this useful, and good luck on your writing adventure!

The Journey Begins

Looking over your old writing is a curse. You find typos, and get irritated, and say, “Who the heck wrote this!” So we say, write first, then wait a month. Then look at what you wrote, and see if its publishable. I broke the first law right off. Now I fixed it, and I have deleted everything except the picture of the original article. Enjoy!

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