Writing Craft

My take on Heinlein’s Rules for writers

Hello everyone,

Today I am going to talk about rules I would be following to write short stories and articles and publish them in my blog.

While researching about craft, I came across Heinlein’s rules for Writers many times. The rules are simple to understand as I will list them in a minute but they are difficult to follow. I sometimes thought they are not at all going to work. Hence discarded them many times.

As I’ve already mentioned, I came across these rules many times, from various authors. Especially in the non-fiction books of Dean Wesley Smith. His non-fiction books are kind of eye opening along with books or blogs by Chris Fox, Rachel Aaron among many others. But I was most impacted by Dean Wesley Smith’s books. Since it clears the fear I had about writing and especially about publishing.

I don’t yet have courage to put my works out there in Amazon or any other similar platform. But publishing in my own blog is also a form of getting my work out to readers and when I realised this, I was like why had I wasted my time for so long.

So, I would be publishing my short stories and articles that helped me to achieve them at least once a week. I hope that one year form now on, if I look back at my works in my blog, I would be able to see more progress and give me courage to publish them as books under Amazon or any other similar platform.

Without wasting any more time, here’s Heinlein’s rules for Writers.

  1. You must write.
  2. You must 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 is sold.

My take on them is given below:

1. You must write:

It’s so simple, yet difficult to follow. It was simple because if you want to put out your book or even short story, you must write in the first place.

But it was difficult because there’s this feeling like what if people are going to reject it or they are not going to read it or worse, no one are going to read it.

That’s why I set a clear goal and publish at least one article or short story every week and it forces me to follow rule number one.

2. You must finish what you start:

This is also easy to understand but difficult to follow.

It is easy to understand because, only if I finish the article or short story that I started, I would be able to publish it and stay true to my goal.
But it was difficult to follow for so many reasons. Or excuses.

Few among them are: lack of inspiration or belief in my writing or myself, fear etc.

As with having a goal of writing for this blog, the solution for this is to have a plan or at least end point of the story.
I would be using Lester Dent’s Maser Plot formula and or Dan Harmon’s story circle to help me with the second rule.
It provides me framework to practice my skills as well as tell the story to it’s best.

3. You must refrain from rewriting except to editorial order:

Many have different views to this point.
One extreme was like no rewriting of the story. Send it out or publish it after one draft.

But others scoff at it saying there was no way one’s story would be good after first draft.

My interpretation of it is like this: finish the first draft, check for inconsistencies in the story or article and typos and publish it.

Like three drafts.

Not rewriting it to death.

4. You must put your story on the market:

Since it was difficult or even outright scary for me to publish it in Amazon or any other similar platform, I would keep my short stories in the blog.

Those would read them please leave comments that would be helpful in my further stories or articles.

5. You must keep it on the market until it is sold:

The story would be in my blog, so in that way I would be following this rule.

One more thing I came across many sites was this:

Move on to your next project after you finish your story or article and repeat it with the above mentioned rules.

I would follow it this way-
I would write a short story or article, finish it using Lester Dent’s Master Plot formula or Dan Harmon’s story circle, do few quick edits and publish it by the end of the week. I would keep it on my blog. And then move on to the next story or article, try new technique or change based on suggestion I acquire in the comments.

I hope I would improve my craft as well as storytelling in this way.

Leave out your comments and if you find anything that I could use in future articles or short story, please mention them in comments.

Thanks for reading.

Your Truly,

Nagendra.

1 thought on “My take on Heinlein’s Rules for writers”

  1. I’ve heard versions of this around. It’s always good to have a refresher. I think #2 is the hardest for myself. I get stuck in draft purgatory sometimes, its best just to push through but I get it. It can be hard.

    Like

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