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The Anti-Writing Demon and the Must-Write Demon

SOMETIMES... 20 things about writing that don't get said often enough

Sometimes less is less and more is more.

Sometimes telling a story demands Telling, not Showing.

Sometimes only an external, "third-person" narrator will do.

Sometimes only far-out psychic distance will do.

Sometimes point-of-view needs changing frequently.

Sometimes a jump-cut between scenes destroys all the narrative tension.

Sometimes present tense is less immediate and more stilted.

Sometimes first person is more distanced and less evocative.

Sometimes third person can go more deeply into a character.

Sometimes only an adjective or three, and an adverb or three, will do.

Sometimes long sentences are more fast-moving, more direct, more dramatic than short sentences

Sometimes only a passive voice verb will do, and a hatful of was, had, am, is, have and are.

Sometimes punctuation is right when it's true to how something would be said, and wrong when it's accurate to what it says.

Sometimes being right means being incorrect:

  1. sometimes infinitives need splitting and so do phrasal verbs;
  2. sometimes prepositions should go at the end;
  3. sometimes a sentence should be grammatically incomplete.

A twist is only a twist; it won't turn a badly-made story into a well-made story.

An epiphany is only an epiphany: it won't turn a dull character into an interesting character.

A death is only a death: it won't turn an unsatisfying story into a satisfying story.

An unreliable narrator is only an unreliable narrator: they won't turn an off-the-peg story into a profound statement of human subjectivity or self-deception or anything else.

Lots of physical story is no compensation for lack of emotional story. Lots of emotional story is no compensation for lack of physical story.

Filling a story with ugliness and misery doesn't automatically make it good, true or profound; filling a story with beauty and happiness doesn't automatically make it bad, false or trite. 

Sometimes the opposite of all of these is also true.

Don't forget that the Itch of Writing Tool-kit has more help. And don't forget this:

if a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing badly. Sometimes all that matters is that you do it.