I'd Like to Buy a Vow!

In the wake of Hurricane Ike, I'm swearing this sacred oath: As God is my witness, I'll never eat Spam again!" Seriously, folks, I haven't tasted this stuff in more than thirty years, and now I'm reminded of why. (Shudder...)

In our writing, as in life, we learn from our mistakes and make solemn vows to ourselves. Here are a few, often hard-won lessons, I've learned over the years:

As God is my witness, I'll never again...

1. Attempt a multiple-viewpoint, first-person novel.
2. Use more than a very few (say three or four) exclamation points per manuscript. (If either the words themselves or the narrative tag (i.e. Randolph shouted) get the point across, the exclamation point can be dispensed with. That gives those few one uses real impact and helps avoid the appearance of melodrama.)
3. Allow a villain to head-shoot a sweet little dog "on-screen" (oh, the hate mail...)
4. Go farther than fifty pages into the novel without at least roughing out a synopsis. This prevents me from writing up 150-page blind alleys while on deadline.
5. Take any research I've learned on the Internet as gospel, and then base my whole manuscript on an erroneous concept (before having to toss the whole premise and start from scratch a few months before deadline).
6. Take to heart the assumption that I'm a one-trick pony who can't write in other genres or get back on my feet after taking one on the chin.

So what are your hardest-won lessons regarding writing? What vows do you make to yourself as a writer?


Joni Rodgers said…
That was great, Colleen. And just the right day to see one of my favorite movie moments. Oh, the drama! (Yeah, Scarlet, shut the eff up and eat your carrot.)

I vow to never again...
...fire my agent without having another firmly lined up.
...put off paying quarterly taxes because I just know that a bigger/ better/ more/ babalooy book contract is just around the corner.
...spend money to attend a Hollywood party. (From now on, I do what ghosts do best: disappear.)

I've vowed a thousand times not to speak my mind too bluntly and piss someone off, but I fear that's just part of who I am.
DG Holt said…
Great post, Colleen, even if Gone with the Wind is one of those books I was tempted to hurl across the room.

I vow not to compare my writing with other writers.

If I can do that, that's enough.
Great vows, you two.

And Scarlett does tend to emote in all caps with a triple helping of exclamation points. But Mitchell gets a special Damn Good Storyteller exemption. :)

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